Grizzlies insist Miles will help team

Updated: January 10, 2009, 5:36 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

Apparently the Memphis Grizzlies have chosen to ignore the Portland Trail Blazers' recent request.

lastname
Miles
Memphis, which waived Darius Miles on Wednesday, signed him to a 10-day contract. Miles was waived to avoid guaranteeing his contract for the rest of the season. General manager Chris Wallace insists Miles can be a plus.

"Darius did everything asked of him in his initial stint with the Grizzlies and was well received by his teammates," he said. "In the last Minnesota game, 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 in two more games this season, Portland will be on the hook for $18 million -- the amount remaining on Miles' contract, which would count against Portland's salary cap and could force the team to pay luxury tax.

Hours before Miles cleared waivers Friday, Portland team president Larry Miller sent an e-mail to the other 29 NBA teams warning of legal action if a team takes Miles simply to adversely impact Portland's salary cap.

The chance of paying the luxury tax led to the Blazers to send the e-mail, threatening legal action if a team signs Miles.

"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 Sports!, which obtained it.

Miller tried explain his action in a conference call Friday.

"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.

"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."

The union said it will "vigorously defend" Miles' rights.

"We are shocked at the brazen attempt by the Portland Trail Blazers to try to prevent Darius Miles from continuing his NBA career," players' association director Billy Hunter said in a statement.

Miles, who was the third overall pick by the Los Angeles Clippers in the 2000 draft, signed a six-year, $48 million deal with Portland in 2004. 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.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

ALSO SEE