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Portland Trail Blazers Team President Larry Miller sent an email to each of the other 29 NBA franchises threatening them with a lawsuit should another team sign ex-Celtic Darius Miles:
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 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.
Miles’ injury was judged to finish his career by an independent medical examiner agreed to by the NBA and Player’s Union. This allowed the Blazers to have the contract picked up by insurance and removed from the salary cap roll and luxury tax implications. However, per NBA rules, if Darius Miles appears in 10 games this season, the contract will be re-instated on the Blazers books, causing this consternation. The contract would be for $9 million this season and next and would put them over the salary cap, triggering luxury tax provisions and hampering their ability to sign free agents in the coming offseasons.
The Celtics had taken a chance on Miles, signing him for the preseason, in which he played in six games. Recently, the Grizzlies took a chance on him after he served his 10 game suspension for substance abuse and he recorded two more games, pushing the total to eight, and more importantly, leaving the Blazers within two games of the financial woes. He cleared waivers today after Memphis released him to avoid having to guarantee his contract and it is not clear if the Grizzlies or anyone else are interested in signing him once again.
It seems like the Blazers would have a very difficult case trying to claim another team signed him explicitly to negatively impact them. He was a talented player who is returning from microfracture surgery, which Amare Stoudemire has come back from. Other teams can certainly make the case that they wanted to see if he could reclaim some of the form that made him the third overall pick in the 2000 NBA Draft by the Clippers.
An unnamed NBA executive also thinks Miles would have a case to cue the Blazers for blocking his right to work. In two games with the Grizzlies, Miles played a total of nine minutes, recording two blocks and two rebounds total. He averages 10.6 PPG and 5.2 RPG over his career, enjoying his best seasons with the Blazers, after spending time with the Clippers and Cavaliers.