Trail Blazers issue warning to other NBA teams not to sign Darius Miles
Miles joining another team could push Blazers over luxury-tax threshhold
Blazers threatening action against other teams, including litigation
Miles was released by Blazers in 2006 after sustaining knee injury
The Portland Trail Blazers have issued an unusual warning to rival NBA teams who are thinking about hiring their former player Darius Miles: Put Miles on the court, say the Blazers, and we may sue you.
"The Portland Trail Blazers will take all necessary steps to safeguard its rights, including, without limitation, litigation,'' wrote Blazers president Larry Miller in an e-mail addressed late Thursday night to all NBA team presidents and general managers. SI.com was provided access to the memo by an NBA team executive.
Miles underwent microfracture surgery to repair his right knee as a member of the Trail Blazers in November 2006. He was released by Portland last April after his injury was judged to be "career-ending'' by an independent medical examiner appointed by the NBA and the players union.
Miles, 27, has attempted a comeback this season, playing a total of eight exhibition and regular-season games with the Boston Celtics and Memphis Grizzlies, who waived him Tuesday to avoid having to guarantee his contract for the rest of the season. The 6-foot-9 Miles had two rebounds and two blocks in seven minutes during his final game with Memphis on Tuesday.
If Miles were to be picked up by an NBA team and play in two more NBA games, his original $9 million salary for this season as well as next season would be reinstated to Portland's official payroll, pushing the Blazers over the luxury tax threshold this season -- costing them millions of dollars -- while hurting their chances to sign a major free agent this summer.
Here is the full text of Miller's statement that was dispatched to rival teams Thursday:
"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.''
A team executive said it was "unprecedented'' for an NBA team to threaten a lawsuit against a rival for signing a player who is a free agent.
The executive speculated that Miles may seek legal action of his own against the Blazers, by claiming that Portland is limiting his right to work.
Miles's agent, Jeff Wechsler, said he could not comment Thursday as he had not yet seen Miller's letter.
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