Tuesday, January 13, 2009
NBA declines to fine Blazers for e-mail
By Chris Sheridan
NEW YORK -- The Portland Trail Blazers will not be penalized or punished by the NBA for sending a threatening e-mail to other teams warning them not to sign Darius Miles.
"We don't plan to do anything to the Blazers," NBA president of league and basketball operations Joel Litvin told ESPN.com Tuesday after it was revealed that the league office had foiled an attempt by Portland to claim Miles off waivers with the intent of stashing him on their inactive roster for the rest of the season.
Blazers president Larry Miller sent an e-mail Thursday night to the other 29 teams threatening litigation against anyone that signed Miles solely for the purpose of damaging Portland's future cap flexibility, but Memphis re-signed Miles to a 10-day contract after he cleared waivers Monday morning.
Miles played in his first game Tuesday night since he was re-signed, moving the Blazers closer to the contentious salary-cap problem they fear.
If Miles plays in one more game, his $9 million salary for this season and next will go back on Portland's salary cap, making them a luxury tax paying team this season and depriving them off $9 million in salary cap flexibility they would have had next summer.
Billy Hunter, president of the NBA players' union, said he was taking a wait-and-see posture on the entire Miles affair, with all legal options on hold while all sides wait to see whether Miles reaches the 10-game threshold.
Hunter declined to positively or negatively characterize the lack of punishment for the Blazers and their billionaire owner by commissioner David Stern.
"That's something we have to study, but clearly it's within the jurisdiction of the league what they want to do," Hunter told ESPN.com "I certainly felt conduct of the Trail Blazers was outrageous, and we'll monitor things from here to see if any additional action necessary.
"But the reality of the situation is that we were able to put things back in place, and he signed. Had someone not decided to sign him because of the e-mail, we'd take a different posture. But he hasn't suffered any damage or loss," Hunter said.
Litkin, communicating through a league spokesman, would not explain what legal grounds the league cited in telling the Blazers they could not make a waiver claim on Miles. He declined further comment.
Miller has defended his tactics.
"Our purpose here was not in any way to keep Darius from being able to play," Miller said. "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."
Miller said Trail Blazers executives sent the e-mail with the "sole purpose of protecting our organization." He added that he had informed the league office of the team's intention to send the e-mail, the brazenness of which offended some other teams and owners.
Miles had played in eight games -- six preseason games for the Boston Celtics, then two games for the Grizzlies before being released.
Miles has not played for Portland since surgery on his right knee in November 2006. Portland waived him at the end of last season after determining he was medically unable to play -- a diagnosis that was seconded by an independent physician appointed by the league office. The majority of his remaining $18 million salary is being paid by an insurance company.
Senior writer Chris Sheridan covers the NBA for ESPN.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.