Statistical Analysis. Humor. Knicks.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

The Fascinating Darius Miles Situation

I do not know how closely everyone is following this, but I find this soap opera riveting. The Memphis Grizzlies recently re-signed Darius Miles (after cutting him the week before) to a 10-day contract. If Miles plays two more games for Memphis, he will have achieved the 10-game minimum needed to overturn the medical exemption Portland received for Miles awhile back (the six games he played for Boston in the pre-season count, so add them to the two he played for Memphis before he got cut and you have eight so far). Such an event has massive implications for the Portland Trailblazers.

When they received the “career-ending” exemption for Miles, the Blazers were able to remove the $27 million he was owed for this year (and the next two) off of the salary cap (they still had to pay whatever insurance did not cover, but it was off of the cap). If Miles plays two more games, that money comes back on to their cap, and instead of having $16 million in cap space this offseason, they will only have $7 million.

In addition, adding his salary puts them over the luxury tax limit, so they will have to pay an additional $7.5 million this year in luxury tax!!

As you might imagine, the Trailblazers are not happy about this, but their methods of dealing with the situation are…well…quite curious.

Here is an e-mail Portland team president Larry Miller sent out to all the other NBA teams recently:

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 by 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.

Cavs’ owner Dan Gilbert had the following response to this threat of litigation:

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.

Now, apparently, it turns out that the NBA had to step in as the Trailblazers actually picked Miles up off of waivers when the Grizzlies waived him!

You see, they planned to sign him and then not play him all year!

This is absolutely bizarre.

15 comments on “The Fascinating Darius Miles Situation

  1. Z

    Thanks Brian. I hadn’t followed it, and yes, it is much more interesting than anything going on with the Knicks these days.

    But, just to connect it to our own interests– if Portland goes back on the book for Miles’ salasry, does that make them a possible match for Marbury at the deadline? He would free up $20 million for next year (if they had plans on spending this offseason) and could be had for LaFrentz and some filler. Unlike “filler” from the Griz, TWolves, Kings, etc… the Blazer filler would be pretty good.

    Any chance?

  2. Mulligan

    This is definitely mor interesting than the Eddy Curry business.. What amazes me is how far Portland has overstepped in trying to prevent Miles from playing. They’ve managed to alienate both the owners and the players union. I wonder if it will diminish their interest to potential free agents (unlikely since they’re poised to be winners for a long time).

  3. Caleb

    I saw another article that said Gilbert headed his email by writing, “The strength of the pack is the wolf, and the strength of the wolf is the pack.” Meaning, I guess, that the pack of owners should stick together and not sue each other. Weird stuff.

    But yes, I would imagine this development could inspire Portland to make a cap-friendly move. Not desperate, though – they already have a good young team, and will have cap space in 2010, without doing anything.

  4. Thomas B.

    Nice article. I see you have been busy today.

    What I find really interesting about the actions taken by the Blazers is that they claim signing Miles could be an act of “tortuously interfering with the Portland Trail Blazers contract rights and perspective economic opportunities.” Do they not see that a league wide email advising against the hiring of a player could be an act of tortuously interfering with Darius Miles’ contract rights and perspective economic opportunities? They have basically asked team not to hire a person who is free to contract with any team in the league. I would think the NBPLA and Miles’ representation could file a civil action against the Blazers for loss of income and perspective economic opportunities. By warding off potential employers without justification the Blazers may have significantly restrained Miles’ ability to find gainful employment in the NBA. Furthermore, this type of action has to run afoul of the NBA’s medical retirement proceedures. The Blazers should not try to strong arm the process to their favor. Of course the thinking might be that any suit by Miles or corective action from the league office would be less damaging than the loss of cap space and the luxuary tax payment. But then, that approach fails because lets say some still signs Miles and in addition to the lost cap space the league fine you further. I guess it takes a risk/reward analysis. But I cant see myself giving legal certification to that letter if it hits my desk. Maybe there is some other contractual provison that I am not aware of.

    Actually, I can’t imagine any attorney that would give approval to that letter being sent to the owners. Well Lionel Hutz would have done it but thankfully he was barred from practice in Oregon 8 years ago.

    I have often called the Blazers the bizzaro knicks, but this level of stupidity seems right up there with failing to settle the case with Anucha when the chance presented itself. Larry, you dont put that sort of thing in writing. Take the owners of the teams that you think might sign Miles out to dinner, and make them an offer. Butter them up. Promise future considerations. You know, Godfather type stuff. “You do me this favor, and I won’t forget you.” But no witnesses.

  5. Brian Cronin

    Thomas, Miller has a few times clarified his stance and I think I can see his clarified stance (while still a bit iffy) working well enough to get him out of trouble (that doesn’t cover the letter, of course, but I’m just talking generally).

    Said stance is “If you want to sign him for his abilities, go for it. But only sign him if you are signing him for his abilities, not just to screw with us. The league would not allow us to pick him up off of waivers because they read intent into our actions – fair enough, but then the league should also read intent into the actions of the club picking up Miles.”

    I think such a stance is still quite silly and fairly bully-ish, but I think he covers himself okay by stressing that he is fine with teams signing Miles if they want him for his basketball skills.

    However, where they would still be in trouble is if anyone could prove the rumors going around that the Blazers were calling every team telling them how Miles basically had no basketball skills left, telling them Miles was a head case, a locker room cancer, leaking info about his failed drug test, etc.

  6. Caleb

    If anything, Miles’ comeback will make the league more reluctant to grant medical retirements. The Knicks have been holding onto Jerome James in the hope that they can swing a medical retirement, which would save them a ton of $$, since insurance would pay. If they give up hope on that — next stop, buyout. Even if JJ gets a full payout, he’d be off the roster. Hell, he could insist on a raise!

  7. Thomas B.

    If anything, Miles’ comeback will make the league more reluctant to grant medical retirements. The Knicks have been holding onto Jerome James in the hope that they can swing a medical retirement, which would save them a ton of $$, since insurance would pay. If they give up hope on that — next stop, buyout. Even if JJ gets a full payout, he’d be off the roster. Hell, he could insist on a raise!

    The earliest we would see a buyout of James would be after July 1, 2009. James has a player option for next season and he must use that option in order to ensure the salary for that season. Once he does that, I’m sure he and Donnie can work on a 70-80 cents on the dollar buyout of 5-5.25 million.

  8. Caleb

    The earliest we would see a buyout of James would be after July 1, 2009. James has a player option for next season and he must use that option in order to ensure the salary for that season. Once he does that, I’m sure he and Donnie can work on a 70-80 cents on the dollar buyout of 5-5.25 million.

    You’re right on the timing. I guess that’s no extra roster spot until next year. We’ll probably have 3 contenders for the Roberson Award — Rose & Marbury are off the books, probably Mobley too, and then James. That’s 12 players, once you give a spot to the 1st round pick.

    btw, I don’t see why JJ would take even 99 cents on the dollar, much less 80 cents. This is the last pro basketball contract he’s ever going to have, so he has no way to make up whatever he gives up.

  9. gbaked

    how did they get a “career-ending” exemption for DMiles, but he is already able to play? How does that work?

    Why is it so hard for us to get an exception for Mobley?

  10. Thomas B.

    btw, I don’t see why JJ would take even 99 cents on the dollar, much less 80 cents. This is the last pro basketball contract he’s ever going to have, so he has no way to make up whatever he gives up.

    True, but I also don’t see JJ much wanting to bother with practice, travel, or even bothering to try and get close to maybe not being in such horrible shape. Wishful thinking on my part but if he wants it all then just give it to him to have him gone. A 1 million dollar difference is not worth keeping him around.

  11. D-Rim

    I wish I had Jerome James’ job. Getting paid a ton of money to do nothing and basically getting an 82 game season ticket plan

  12. Brian Cronin

    how did they get a “career-ending” exemption for DMiles, but he is already able to play? How does that work?

    This is a fascinating subplot to the soap opera. The conditions put forth under Miles’ “career-ending” injury still exist!

    You see, the reason they got the exemption was because doctors (both the Trailblazers’ and the NBA’s own doctors who investigate when this becomes an issue) determined that Miles’ knee injury was so severe that he should never play on it again – that he had lost so much cartilage in his knee that he was basically working with bone on bone in his knee.

    Well, Miles was informed of this, but he still wants to play.

    So he’s essentially playing with the very injury that the NBA has termed a “career-ending” injury.

    That’s where I really can’t blame the Blazers so much. They were told by their doctors that he can’t play – the NBA told them he couldn’t play. So they had three options, only one of which made any sense. Keep him – where he couldn’t play for them. Trade him – which they couldn’t because he couldn’t play for the new team. Cut him to free up a roster spot – which they did. That Miles decided to play anyways I don’t think is really the Blazers’ fault.

    That they tried to make the most out of it and get the exemption I don’t think is their fault.

    That they went around spreading rumors about Miles and threatening litigation against any team that signed him?

    That’s their fault.

    Why is it so hard for us to get an exception for Mobley?

    Jon Abbey suggests that all he’s read on the matter makes it seem as though it is the Knicks who are dragging their feet, not the league. In addition, it may be hard to classify this as a “career-ending” injury when he was playing with it before the trade.

  13. Ben R

    I live in Portland and I root for the Blazers most of the time (not when they play the Knicks of course) but I find the whole situation to be a huge black eye for a Portland franchise that has worked very hard to rehabilitate their image. I love that Miles scored 13 points in 14 minutes on 6 shots last night and I hope the league levees some sort of sanction towards the Blazers.

    I think this rivals the sexual harassment case or any of the Knicks misteps over the last four years. I think the Blazers organization has acted extremly poorly and I will have a hard time rooting for the Blazers for the rest of the season.

Comments are closed.