TORONTO — Grizzlies general manager Chris Wallace said Friday night the team plans to sign veteran forward Darius Miles to a 10-day contract.
Amid simmering controversy, the move sets the stage for Miles to continue a comeback attempt from major knee surgery and adversely affect his former team’s salary cap situation in the process.
Wallace declined further comment on the signing.
Meanwhile, the Grizzlies lost to the host Toronto Raptors, 103-82, on Friday night.
Miles is expected in Memphis on Saturday. He has visited family in Mississippi since Tuesday when the Griz waived the 6-9 forward to avoid guaranteeing his contract for the rest of the season.
So Miles won’t have to travel far in order to put an exclamation point on an unprecedented NBA saga given the ramifications his return likely will have for the Portland Trail Blazers.
If Miles appears in two more games this season, the $18 million remaining on his salary will count against the Blazers’ salary cap. The development would make the Blazers a luxury-tax payer and limit their future free-agent spending.
Portland is still expected to be under the cap this summer. If the Blazers let Raef LaFrentz’s $12.7 million contract expire and Miles’ contract goes back on their books, they would be approximately $7.5 million under the current cap.
The figure would be $16.5 million if Miles never played.
That prospect led to the Blazers to send the league’s 29 other teams an e-mail, threatening legal action if a team signs Miles.
Count Grizzlies owner Michael Heisley among the NBA owners who took offense. Heisley would not comment publicly but reacted with outrage to the tone of Portland’s note regarding Miles.
Before Miles cleared waivers Friday, Portland team president Larry Miller sent an e-mail that warned against a team signing Miles to affect their cap.
“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,” part of Miller’s e-mail reads, according to SI.com and Yahoo.com, which obtained it.
Hardly anyone who received the note was amused.
Yahoo! Sports reported Cleveland owner Dan Gilbert sent a disapproving response to Portland. Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver did the same, according to ESPN.com. Also reacting was the NBA players’ association, which vowed to challenge “collusion” or any action geared toward preventing Miles from working.
Earlier Friday, the NBA sent a memo that announced teams were free to sign Miles to a Uniform Player Contract and that any such contract would be approved by the NBA.
“Our purpose here was not in any way to keep Darius from being able to play,” Miller said Friday in a conference call with reporters. “If he can come back and help a team to win and play at a level on the court that helps the team, we have no problem with that at all.
“We were hearing a lot of rumblings and rumors that there were teams out there planning to sign Darius Miles specifically and maliciously to hurt our organization. This was our way of responding to that and letting folks know that we were not going to take it sitting down.”
It was believed that Miles had to play in 10 regular-season or postseason games in a season for the $18 million to count against the Blazers. But his six preseason appearances for the Boston Celtics counted toward the 10. Miles then signed with Memphis, served a 10-game suspension for violating the league’s drug policy and played in two regular-season games for the Grizzlies.
Miles played a total of nine minutes in his two appearances with the Griz. He logged seven minutes Tuesday during the second quarter of a loss to Minnesota, and was active on both ends of the court as well as in good condition.
It was a respectable showing. Despite missing his two shot attempts and going scoreless, Miles blocked two shots and grabbed a couple of rebounds. Griz brass was particularly impressed with how Miles used his length and basketball IQ when defending Minnesota’s Al Jefferson.
“I don’t think you’ve seen the last of him in the NBA,” Wallace said at the time. “He showed he can come back and play in this league.”
Miles was the third overall pick by the Los Angeles Clippers in the 2000 draft. He signed a six-year, $48 million deal with Portland in 2004. But the Blazers waived Miles at the end of the 2007-08 season after an independent doctor determined he hadn’t recovered from microfracture surgery on his right knee in November 2006.
“I wish I could do this without me having to put money on (Portland’s) salary cap,” Miles told The Commercial Appeal last month after he joined the Griz. “The only reason they say something about me is because of their business decision.”
Wow That was quick.
Here we go. :lol: