Tag:Portland Trail Blazers
Posted on: March 26, 2009 4:21 pm
 

NBA owners vote for do-overs

The NBA board of governors has voted to adopt a rule change we told you about during All-Star weekend. When a team has too many players on the court, the opposing team will have the option to nullify any game action (i.e. baskets) that occurred while the infraction was going on. This would be in addition to the technical foul that is assessed to the offending team.

The change will take effect beginning with Friday's games. At All-Star weekend in Phoenix, the competition committee voted to recommend the change to owners in response to a game Dec. 30 in which Portland scored a basket against Boston with six men on the court. Under the old rule, the technical foul was assessed but the Celtics did not have the option to disallow the basket. Now they do.

There. Now you can get on with your lives.

 

 

Posted on: February 13, 2009 7:46 pm
 

Oden to miss rookie challenge

PHOENIX -- There's no chance of Greg Oden getting hurt in the All-Star rookie challenge Friday night. The Portland Trail Blazers' center will miss the game between rookies and sophomores with a sore left knee.

Oden, a member of the rookie squad because he missed all of last season following microfracture surgery on his right knee, injured his left knee in a collision with Golden State's Corey Maggette in the Blazers' 105-98 loss to the Warriors Thursday night.

  

Posted on: February 11, 2009 10:54 pm
 

Blazer talks cool; Heat, Bulls in hunt for Amare

Half the NBA is going West for All-Star weekend. The Suns are looking East when it comes to trading Amare Stoudemire.

Talks between the Suns and Portland Trail Blazers about Stoudemire have unraveled, CBSSports.com has learned. Phoenix is now focused on Eastern Conference teams -- and not just Chicago.

The Bulls remain a serious contender due to Drew Gooden's expiring contract and Larry Hughes' expiring deal next season, plus the largest expiring trade exception in the league ($5.2 million). But Miami is the latest team to emerge as a serious landing spot for Stoudemire, a person with direct knowledge of the talks said Wednesday night.

The Heat's involvement is sure to set off speculation about the possibility of Phoenix taking back Shawn Marion, who was traded to Miami for Shaquille O'Neal last February -- ground zero in the demolition of the Suns' 58-win-a-year success story over the past four seasons. But it is not believed that Suns managing partner Robert Sarver wants to go there. And Sarver's heavy hand in the process has become one of the key obstacles to Phoenix securing the best deal, according to two league executives -- one of whom described the situation as "dissension." Teams are getting mixed signals from Phoenix as far as what the Suns are looking to take back for Stoudemire, another executive said -- one version from Sarver and another from president Steve Kerr.

That isn't uncommon in NBA trade talks, especially on a deal as massive as this one. But it's just another impediment in Kerr's way as he tries to leverage an already difficult position. Some team executives have concerns about Stoudemire as a max player, given that anyone who acquires him would have to be prepared to re-sign him if he declines his player option after the 2009-10 season. Stoudemire's defensive deficiencies have been well documented, and he's a difficult player to commit to long-term given that he underwent microfracture knee surgery in 2005.

The deal Portland was discussing with Phoenix involved LaMarcus Aldridge, Jerryd Bayless, and Raef LaFrentz's $12.7 million expiring contract. "That deal is dead," the person familiar with the talks said. One reason could be that Portland is really looking to acquire an elite point guard, according to an NBA team executive. That begs the question of whether Portland G.M. Kevin Pritchard was asking for Steve Nash. But according to another rival executive, the Suns have made it clear that Nash, Grant Hill, and Leandro Barbosa are "untouchable."

 

 

 

 

Posted on: February 10, 2009 10:14 pm
Edited on: February 11, 2009 12:58 pm
 

Portland in the mix for Stoudemire (UPDATE)

The Portland Trail Blazers have made a strong play for Amare Stoudemire, discussing a package that includes LaMarcus Aldridge, Jerryd Bayless, and Raef LaFrentz's $12.7 million expiring contract, a person with direct knowledge of the talks told CBSSports.com Tuesday.

The Blazers, among the most active teams in the league as the Feb. 19 trade deadline draws near, have joined Chicago, Miami, Detroit, Toronto, Golden State, and New Jersey among a growing list of teams that have discussed acquiring Stoudemire from the Suns.

Several team executives told CBSSports.com that no clear front-runner has emerged as Suns president Steve Kerr tries to extract the best possible offer for Stoudemire, whose stock has fallen as Phoenix continues to struggle in its adjustment to a new style under coach Terry Porter. The Raptors are "pushing hard," one exec said, but at this point want to pair Stoudemire with Chris Bosh and continue to rebuff any trade proposals that include parting with the team's cornerstone. Bosh has a player option after next season and can become one of the headliners in the 2010 free-agent class.

The Blazers lost any chance of being a major player in free agency this summer when Darius Miles came out of medical retirement and joined the Memphis Grizzlies. Losing $9 million of cap space they thought they'd have, the Blazers are looking to make their splash now via the trade route. The Blazers have four extra second-round picks in the next two drafts to offer, plus the rights to British big man Joel Freeland, taken by Portland with the 30th pick in the 2006 draft. Freeland, playing for Gran Canaria of the Spanish League, is part of the discussion between the Blazers and Suns, the person with knowledge of the talks said.

UPDATE: One factor complicating matters, according to a team executive who has spoken with the Suns, is an apparent difference of opinion between Kerr and managing partner Robert Sarver as far as what Phoenix hopes to get back in a Stoudemire trade. Steve Nash, Grant Hill, and Leandro Barbosa are viewed as untouchable in any trade talks with the Suns. It is not known if any of those players is the source of disagreement between Kerr and Sarver.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted on: January 10, 2009 9:38 pm
 

Union won't challenge Miles threat -- for now

The NBA Players Association won't file a grievance on Darius Miles' behalf now that the former No. 3 overall pick has received a 10-day contract from the Memphis Grizzlies despite threats of legal action from the Portland Trail Blazers.

 "Our concern is that the players' marketplace is protected and that there’s no chilling of the marketplace and no collusion," Hal Biagas, deputy counsel for the players' association, told CBSSports.com Saturday night.

The union will continue monitoring the Miles situation and will take action if further investigation warrants it. One area that has yet to be fully explored is one that was raised by Miles' agent, Jeffrey Wechsler, earlier Saturday -- whether some teams backed away from offering Miles a contract due to Portland's threat of a lawsuit.

It would be a complicated case to prove, not to mention unseemly in how it would play out. If such a legal action were pursued, it would present the uncomfortable possibility of team executives testifying under oath as to whether they backed away from signing Miles after Blazers president Larry Miller emailed 29 teams Friday and threatened to sue any team that signed Miles simply to inflict harm on the Blazers. Other than Wechsler's assertion, there is no evidence at this point that other teams intended to sign Miles but backed away due to Portland's threat.

Miles, 27, retired in 2006 after failing to recover from microfracture surgery -- two years after signing a six-year, $48 million extension with the Blazers. If he plays two more games with any team, he would reach the 10-game threshold for canceling the salary-cap relief Portland was granted when he was deemed medically unable to play. It would result in $18 million returning to the Blazers' books, plus about $8 million in revenue sharing money from Portland that would be split among all teams under the tax threshold -- about $260,000 per team.

It would be exceedingly difficult to prove that collusion took place. Even if other teams were pursuing Miles, none would've been willing to give him more than the pro-rated veteran's minimum on a 10-day deal -- which is what he got from Memphis. Just as difficult to prove would be Memphis' motives in signing him. But if the Grizzlies were found to have signed him as a favor to any other team or teams that may be in competition with Portland for future free agents, that would be a matter that would attract intense scrutiny from league and union lawyers.

Something else to consider: The union's loyalty in the Miles case isn't necessarily obvious to pinpoint. While the players' association's job is to protect Miles, a person with knowledge of the situation pointed out that the union would prefer that the Blazers kept their cap space. That money would in turn increase the competition for a player or players also represented by the NBPA in the future. 

Either way, it's safe to conclude that this story isn't over yet.

 

Posted on: January 10, 2009 10:19 am
Edited on: January 10, 2009 10:28 pm
 

Miles re-signs with Memphis (UPDATE 4)

Darius Miles is back with Memphis. The Grizzlies better be ready to lawyer up.

Amid swirling controversy and threats of a lawsuit from the Portland Trail Blazers, Miles signed a 10-day contract with the Grizzlies Saturday, less than a week after being waived. Miles played two games for Memphis but was released so his contract wouldn't be guaranteed for the rest of the season. He cleared waivers Friday, the same day a flurry of memos and threats flew around the NBA.

"Our focus is on Darius' career," Miles' agent, Jeffrey Wechsler said Saturday. "He doesn't want to hurt Portland." Grizzlies general manager Chris Wallace announced the signing in a news release that praised Miles for his first stint with Memphis but made no mention of the Portland controversy.

"Darius did everything asked of him in his initial stint with the Grizzlies and was well received by his teammates,” Wallace said. “In the last Minnesota game (Jan. 6), his length, experience, rebounding, shot blocking and defense on one of the elite post scorers in the league, Al Jefferson, were all impressive. Our young team is short on frontcourt players and can use a veteran with his attributes."

If Miles plays two more games, he will satisfy the criteria to cancel the cap relief Portland received when he retired due do a medical condition. Miles signed a six-year, $48 million extension with the Blazers in 2004, but never recovered from microfracture surgery in 2006. In 2008, Portland's petition to have the injury declared career-ending was approved, but the requirement was that Miles remained retired. Clearly, he is not. He played six preseason games for the Celtics before logging two for Memphis.

Before Miles cleared waivers, Blazers president Larry Miller sent an email to the 29 other teams warning them that they would face litigation if they signed Miles specifically to hurt them. If Miles passes the 10-game threshold, the $18 million remaining on his contract goes back on Portland's books -- half this season and half next season. That would not only remove the Blazers from free-agent contention in perhaps the two biggest free-agent summers in NBA history, but it would also cost Portland about $8 million in luxury tax.

In return, the league office issued a memo to all league executives Friday reinforcing that they are welcome to sign Miles and that any uniform contract with the former No. 3 overall pick would be honored and approved by the NBA. NBA Players Association executive director Billy Hunter said he was "appalled" and that he would challenge any legal action taken by the Blazers.

UPDATE: But the players' association won't file a grievance at this time in support of Miles, Hal Biagas, the union's deputy counsel, told CBSSports.com Saturday night. There's no evidence at this point that collusion occured, other than assertions by Wechsler that certain teams may have backed away from offering Miles a contract in the wake of Portland's threat. The players' association is looking into Wechsler's assertions, but the fact that Miles received a fair-market deal -- the prorated veteran's minimum on a 10-day contract -- leaves little to fuel a legal case.

“Our concern is that the players' marketplace is protected and that there’s no chilling of the marketplace and no collusion," said Biagas, who indicated that the union will continue to investigate and monitor the matter. 

Miles winding up back in Memphis is curious and may satisfy the Blazers' definition of malicious, if they choose to pursue their case legally. A person familiar with the Grizzlies' front-office dealings said Miles is not a long-term solution and is viewed as a long-shot to stick around for any significant length of time.

Wechsler disagrees, saying Memphis gave Miles a chance in his first stint and has no ulterior motives in bringing Miles back. Wechsler should know; as Miles' agent, it was his job to make sure he didn't get his client in a situation where a team was using him simply to hurt Portland. "He just wants to play, and Darius can play," Wechsler said. "He's long, he can defend, and he's jumping and dunking off either leg."

Wechsler was conferring with players' association attorneys Saturday, but wouldn't rule out pursuing legal action outside the scope of the collective bargaining agreement if the Blazers' actions were found to have eliminated teams from the bidding for his client.

"We are going to vigorously defend Darius' rights and pursue all avenues to preserve Darius' ability to earn a living," Wechsler said. "If we have to bring in outside counsel, we're in the process of evaluating all of that."

  

Posted on: January 9, 2009 6:06 pm
Edited on: January 9, 2009 8:52 pm
 

NBA to Blazers: Buzz off (UPDATE)

Neither David Stern nor the NBA office had any public comment Friday about the Portland Trail Blazers' memo to teams warning them they would face litigation if they signed Darius Miles. That doesn't mean the league was silent on the matter, though.

League sources confirmed that the NBA office sent a memo to all 30 teams Friday letting them know that they are permitted to sign Miles to a contract, and that the league office would approve that contract. It was a blow to the Blazers' efforts to prevent teams from signing Miles, whose remaining $18 million spread over this year and next would go back on Portland's books if he plays two more games this season.

It was an unprecedented step and another twist in the Miles saga, which could cripple the Blazers' bid to be a force in free agency over the next two summers. Miles cleared waivers Friday and has the full support of the NBA Players Association, whose executive director, Billy Hunter, said he was "appalled" by Portland's actions.

UPDATE: Blazers president Larry Miller was defiant in a national conference call with reporters Friday night, defending the team's threat of legal action and insisting he'd heard "rumblings" that teams were considerig signing Miles once he cleared waivers specifically to hurt the Blazers. He declined to name the team or teams involved.

"This was our way of responding to that and letting folks know that we weren’t going to take that sitting down," said Miller, noting that the top decision-makers in the organization were involved in the step of warning rival teams with a league-wide memo saying they would be sued if they signed Miles for "malicious reasons." The decision was made by Miller, general manager Kevin Pritchard, business executive Tod Leiweke, and owner Paul Allen.

Miller also revealed that he consulted with the league office before the litigation notice was sent. "I told them this was what we were planning to send out," Miller said. "And they told us if that is what we felt we should do, we should do it."

Miller said he'd received feedback from rival executives about the unusual threat -- some of it positive, some of it negative. "We wouldn't change the way we approached this," he said.

Confronted with the notion that the players' association could use collusion as one basis on which to challenge the Blazers' threat, Miller said, "Hey, that's their job, and we have no problem with that because we’re not trying to do anything to hurt Darius Miles. This was about other teams trying to hurt us."

The unprecedented step taken by Portland to protect the disabled player exemption on Miles was fueled by financial implications -- about $8 million in luxury-tax money to be paid to all teams under the tax -- plus the desire to maintain cap flexibility for future signings. Miller also mentioned that making the Blazers profitable, which he said they've never been, also was factored in. Attorneys were not consulted before the memo was sent, Miller said.

 "This was a business decision," he said. "We felt maybe this was a way for us to protect our organization."

 

Posted on: January 8, 2009 1:52 pm
Edited on: January 9, 2009 11:19 am
 

Blazers still in peril with MIles (UPDATE 2)

Turns out the Portland Trail Blazers aren't in the clear with Darius Miles' cap-killing contract, after all.

A person with knowledge of the situation has confirmed to me a Yahoo! Sports report that the six preseason games Miles played for Boston count against the 10-game threshold that would cause MIles' $18 million to go back on the Blazers' books. The money would be split evenly over this season and next, thus crippling any plans the Blazers might've had to be a player in free agency.

It had been believed -- even among GMs who were monitoring the Miles situation -- that the Blazers dodged a bullet when Memphis released him this week after playing only two games. Not so; according to the CBA, Miles is only two games away from wrecking Portland's cap situation.

It is hard to empathize with a team trying to get out from under a bad contract. If you sign a player to a bad contract, you should be prepared to live with the consequences. The Blazers have been in that frame of mind all along, so they're not looking for sympathy. G.M. Kevin Pritchard told me in an email that he "planned for all the scenarios."

The part of this that makes me queasy is the notion that rival GMs are salivating at the prospect of signing Miles and running him onto the floor for two games just for the sake of hurting the Blazers. There has to be some mechanism, some power at David Stern's discretion, to prevent such obvious abuse. I will let you know if such authority exists, but there is one reprieve at Portland's disposal for sure: If Miles' salary goes back on the books, the Blazers can apply after a year to have the final year taken off. Depending on the motives of the team that signs Miles and plays him for those two games, excusing the final year would seem to be a fair compromise -- one that doesn't fully forgive Portland for giving Miles the contract in the first place, but doesn't over-penalize, either.

UPDATE: Here is how it would work if Miles reached the 10-game threshold and the Blazers applied to have the second $9 million installment wiped from their books. According to a person familiar with the situation, the rules allow Portland to apply for relief one year after the injury that caused the disability. The team applies to the league office, which works in conjunction with medical experts and the NBA Players Association to reach a consensus. It would have to be determined if Miles is unable to play due to the injury or due to lack of skill -- a gray area if there ever was one. If it is determined that Miles can't play anymore skill-wise, Portland clearly wouldn't be given relief on the second year of the money.

UPDATE: Now the Trail Blazers have put the other 29 teams on notice: Sign Miles for the expressed purpose of harming us, and we'll sue you.

Although the notion of a team using Miles to hurt the Blazers is just wrong, the fact that Pritchard has prepared for this situation from the beginning tells me that this isn't as catastrophic to Portland's long-term plan as some of suggested. It would be nice to have cap flexibility, but Pritchard has some other valuable assets -- young, appealing players on reasonable contracts that could be packaged in a trade for the piece that might push the Blazers over the top. And remember: Regardless of the Miles situation, there's nothing to prevent a marquee free agent from going to Portland in a sign-and-trade.

 

  

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com