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Umm…What?

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I suppose I’ll file this under “High Stakes Saber-Rattling”, since I can’t file this under “Interesting.”  The NBA has announced that the six games Darius Miles’ played for the Boston Celtics in the pre-season, count towards the ten he needed to get back on the books of the team that successfully petitioned to void his contract.  That team?  The Portland Trailblazers. Blazers president Larry Miller has publicly released a letter threatening legal action against any team who signs Miles and puts him on the floor.  In essence, the Blazers are demanding that no one else signs Miles or they will face the limitless wallet of Paul Allen and his attractive band of female lawyers.

“Team Presidents and General Managers,

The Portland Trail Blazers are aware that certain teams may be contemplating signing Darius Miles to a contract for the purpose of adversely impacting the Portland Trail Blazers Salary Cap and tax positions. Such conduct from a team would violate its fiduciary duty as an NBA joint venture. In addition, persons or entities involved in such conduct may be individually liable to the Portland Trail Blazers for tortuously interfering with the Portland Trail Blazers’ contract rights and perspective economic opportunities.

Please be aware that if a team engages in such conduct, the Portland Trail Blazers will take all necessary steps to safeguard its rights, including, without limitation, litigation.”

What is all this ten games crap? What’s going on?  Where’s my gun? Well, let Daddy try to calm your fears. Portland was able to get out under Miles 6-year/$48 million deal after young Darius smoked his way to a micro-fracture surgery in 2006, that was at that time called “career-ending” by an independent NBA office physician. As we all know, fabulous strides have been made in the field of micro-fracture surgery and Miles was able to get back on an NBA court this year when Boston signed him to a low-risk deal in the off-season.

But the NBA rules state that if a player who has had his incumbent contract voided because of injury can reinstate that money if he plays at least ten games in an NBA season. Boston’s signing was something not even Portland took seriously.  That is, until the NBA just announced his six pre-season games count toward that total. He was released before the regular season, but Memphis recently signed Miles only to release him after two games on the floor.  Which leads us to Miles’ current magic number; eight.

Why is it important?  Let’s bullet point this crap.

  • Portland loses $18 million total of their sweet, sweet cap space over this season and next. The worst part is Miles will never be a Blazer again, even if he cured cancer.
  • Miles will essentially negate most of the huge cap relief they were going to get this offseason with Raef LaFrentz coming off the books after this season.
  • The Blazers are unexpectedly at the mercy of any NBA team who might sign Miles just to put the Blazers (a team very much on the rise) in the position I listed in the previous two points.
  • Miller’s letter to the league has no real legal weight since the rules are clear.  ESPN’s TrueHoop has the rule written down and it’s not really open to “Awww, ok… the other teams were being mean” clauses.  I agree with author Henry Abbott, when he says that the Blazers are going to have to deal with his contract the same way other teams are forced to deal with their contract signing mistakes.

More will undoubtadly come as the situation develops.  The Denver Nuggets have newly attained cap-space and might do well to sign Miles since they are at about the same level as the Blazers.  They are rumored to be considering exactly that.

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  1. Doug
    January 9, 2009 at 4:11 PM

    he-he … sabre-rattling … he-he … that’s dirty

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