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Darius’s Dirty Deal

ph2009013003855After being signed to his second ten-day contract with the Memphis Grizzlies on January 20th, and the initial threats of the Portland Trailblazers to all NBA teams, Darius Miles has officially signed with the Memphis Grizzlies.

I wrote several articles relating to this specific matter regarding Miles (Blazers Miles From Resolving Conflict) and his financial situation with Portland, and after this last bit of news it is pretty much official.  Even if Darius did not re-sign for the entire season, the Blazers were in debt to him for $18 Million from a two year contract since January 16th, when he participated in his tenth game of the year.  The Blazers were told that Miles was to have career ending surgery on his knee last year when he had two years left on his contract.

Since his amazing return from injury, Miles has averaged 5.7 points and 2.6 rebounds in 10 games this season.  He is looking good for someone who had a “career ending injury.”  Maybe Portland was too quick to dismiss him and pay the minimal amount for ending a contract with an injury, versus paying the rest of his salary and seeing if he could recover.

Despite everything, the implications of this are not as severe as the Trailblazers made it out to seem when they sent threatening emails league-wide.  The new arrival of Darius’s yearly salary to this year’s cap puts Portland at $80,884,803 on the season.  The additional $9 million each year would clearly place them over for this year and force the team to pay a large luxury tax, which would change the team’s ability to go out and re-sign and sign free agents this off-season.  Not to mention another $9 million they would have to account for in 2010.

This could be good for some players and agents as the Blazers will be looking to unload some talent and large contracts to free up much needed cap space.  Channing Frye, Steve Blake and Ike Diogu will all be looking to sign again with the team after this year and could be the first ones management looks at to find some space.  All three have no official contract for the 2009 season yet, only qualifying offers that are non guaranteed contracts.  No one on the team has a contract with an early-termination clause.  Stars like Greg Oden, Brandon Roy, and LaMarcus Aldridge are looking good in Portland jerseys and will likely continue to do so for many years to come.

The Blazers have many young, talented players, making the future seem bright.  However, the Darius Miles situation does throw an unexpected wrinkle into the salary aspect of the team and will cause this free agent season to be one to remember for Portland.  On top of Miles, Portland is paying Steve Francis $15,730,000 for this season and he is no longer with the team. Any way you see it ,the team will have to make some adjustments.  Agents for some players will be forced to get their clients adjusting to playing elsewhere.