The Blazers Will Sue You

Last April, the Blazers released Darius Miles. He has been sidelined for several years with a seemingly chronic knee condition and as long as he doesn’t play in 10 games this season, Portland is allowed to remove his $9 millionish salary from its salary cap both this season and next season due to a medical clause in the NBA’s collective bargaining agreement. Given the team’s young, high-potential nucleus, having an extra $9 million around to sign some quality role players would be a fantastic development.

Darius caught on with the Celtics in the summer and hoped his injury days were behind him, but when he was waived after playing (not very well) in just six preseason games, Boston cut him. Between him showing he wasn’t NBA-caliber anymore and a drug-related 10-game suspension that Darius would have to serve before he could play for any other team, it looked like Darius’ season might be over and Portland believed it was in the clear.

Alas, the Memphis Grizzlies decided to give DMiles a shot a few weeks ago. But after playing in two games, Memphis cut him.

But now, it has been revealed (something the Blazers knew all along) that even his preseason games count against the 10-game limit — a number that is now down to two. And that number becoming zero is something most non-Portland NBA execs are rooting for, so as to curtail the Blazers’ ability to further build around Brandon Roy, LaMarcus Aldridge and Greg Oden.

All in all, league executives have been rooting hard for Miles to play those 10 games after he missed two years with a knee injury that Portland and league doctors declared was career-ending.

“Someone is going to scoop him up and play him those two games now,” one Eastern Conference executive said when told the news on Wednesday night. “Portland is screwed.”

Of course, the Blazers know this.

And now, it seems the team president has gone batshit crazy, issuing the following statement yesterday.

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 venturer. 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.’

Sensational.

UPDATE: The League has issued this statement in response: (via TrueHoop)

The NBA has received the email sent last night by Portland to all teams. Under league rules, teams are free to sign Darius Miles to a Uniform Player Contract if they wish to secure his services as a player, and any such contract would be approved by the NBA.

Whatever.

UPDATE PART DEUX: The Grizz fear not your idle threats, Portland, and have now resigned Darius — making it nearly certain he’ll end up playing those last two games. (via FanHouse)

Even better, Cavs owner Dan Gilbert (who also owns the world-renowned Fatheads) thinks that Blazers team president Larry Miller is a pretty big douchebag. He issued this statement: (via Dime)

With all due respect…although the Cleveland Cavaliers have no interest in signing Darius Miles and will not be signing Darius Miles, I find your email quite peculiar from two standpoints:

1. It’s dead wrong. I believe that all 30 NBA teams were and are fully aware of the terms and provisions of the collective bargaining agreement as to which all teams and the NBA are a party to, including the Portland Trailblazers.

2. Are legal threats through a mass email the best way to circumvent the known potential consequences that could result from the Trailblazers decisions and actions they took with respect to Darius Miles?

I fully understand the frustration you and your team’s ownership must be feeling in regards to this situation, but a preemptive threat of ‘litigation’ directed at all of your partners through a group email does not sit well with me and seems to be incongruent with the spirit of keeping a ‘fiduciary duty’ and good ‘partner-like duty’ to your ‘NBA joint venturers.’

I would think there has got to be a better tactic than this one.

In other news, Gilbert also de-friended Miller on FaceBook and revoked the Evite to his upcoming carnival-themed birthday bash. Nice work, Mr. Miller. You just cost yourself a pony ride.

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