|Blazers face Miles, a player still on their books|
|Written by Admin|
|Tuesday, 17 February 2009 13:41|
But that's where he'll be Wednesday night, playing for the Memphis Grizzlies at the Rose Garden while his $18 million salary is weighing on his former team's cap.
Miles' four season with the Trail Blazers were filled with drama, and it has continued since they waived him at the end of last season with what was thought to be a career-ending knee injury.
And there's no doubt Miles will continue to impact the Blazers in the future because of the salary cap, although the team is still hoping for some sort of relief.
``We're not saying it's done,'' Portland president Larry Miller told The Associated Press. ``We are still exploring our options at this point.''
Miller would not elaborate.
in January 2004 and signed him to a six-year, $28 million deal.
But his tenure in Portland was uneasy. Miles got into a verbal spat with then-coach Maurice Cheeks during a film session, and inexplicably left for the locker room during a game.
His career in Portland essentially was over with the Blazers when he had microfracture surgery on his right knee in November 2006. An independent doctor determined last season that the injury was career-ending, and the Blazers waived him.
The catch was if Miles played in 10 NBA games, including preseason, his remaining salary would come back on the Blazers' books and have luxury tax implications.
Miles, meanwhile, launched a comeback, playing with the Celtics in the preseason before landing with the Grizzlies. Shortly before he reached the 10-game plateau, Portland made a bold move and sent out an e-mail warning to the league's other teams.
``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,'' the e-mail cryptically read. ``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.''
The e-mail, obtained by both Yahoo.com and SI.com, was met with widespread criticism.
``We are shocked at the brazen attempt by the Portland Trail Blazers to try to prevent Darius Miles from continuing his NBA career,'' players' association director Billy Hunter said.
After a pair of 10-game contracts, Memphis signed Miles for the remainder of the season on Jan. 30. In 16 games playing off the bench for the Grizzlies, he is averaging 4.7 points and 2.1 rebounds in 11 minutes.
Wednesday night's game is the first meeting between Memphis and the Blazers this season.
As it stands, the $18 million due to Miles on his original contract over the next two seasons goes back on Portland's books and counts toward the team's salary cap. The salary also has luxury tax implications.
Less salary cap room means the Blazers will be limited when it comes to signing players in the offseason.
Miles has told reporters that he has no ill will toward the Blazers, he just wants to play. For their part, the Blazers have said they have nothing against Miles personally.
According to the NBA, Miles is the only player to return after having an injury that was deemed career-ending. Miller said that fact makes it difficult to determine if Portland can do anything about it.
``All I can really say is that we are exploring all of our options,'' he said.