The Wizards and Darius Miles: Why Not?
The Washington Wizards would like to have a small forward to backup Caron Butler. Darius Miles would like to be a member of an NBA team. Could the two be a match?
At face value, Miles would be far from the shooter the Wizards should desire for spot action. On the other hand, he is still freakishly athletic and could provide a combustible punch of energy off the bench for a team needing a push. Darius Miles could be seen as a low-risk, high-reward option, and he’s only 26.
Darius Miles the person raises several red flags. Number one is knee issues. He had microfracture surgery in November 2006 and an independent source dubbed his injury as career ending this past April, allowing the Portland Trailblazers to release him without salary cap implications. The last NBA game the guy play in was over 26 months ago. However, reports say that his knee has fully recovered, but that Miles is just not yet in ‘NBA Shape.’ Should he play again, Portland’s cap space would shrink.
Red flag #2, attitude. Most accounts don’t dub Miles as an absolute menace, rather elude to a selfish demeanor created from your run-of-the-mill pampered upbringing of a natural born basketball talent. The most famous example is a 2005 confrontation between Miles and then Portland head coach, Maurice Cheeks. It started in a film session and may or may not have included escalation into the office of then Blazers GM, and former Bullets head man, John Nash. But surely Miles has learned a humbling lesson, and perhaps coming under the wing of a veteran such as Antawn Jamison would aid his maturity.
Red flag #3, suspension. Much ado has been made Darius Miles failing a drug test and being suspended by the league for 10 games. The NBA then made all teams aware of said fact via email, this stirred a minor controversy as to if the league acted unethically in leaking medical information. True Hoop and The Sporting Blog have the issue at hand well covered. The heart of the previous debate: does D-Miles have a weed or steroid problem? The latest report from Mark Stein is that Phentermine (an appetite suppressant which is considered a controlled substance because of a similarity to amphetamines) is actually responsible for the failed test. Not exactly a reason for NBA teams to be concerned. Although, I am curious as to why he was taking weight loss pills; being off that knee probably fattened him up.
Overall, these issues are not insurmountable for a team to deny consideration. The Boston Celtics, Phoenix Suns, Dallas Mavericks and New Jersey Nets each have worked out Miles. But would he be right for the Wizards? Well, money is the main issue and with $1.5 million left until luxury tax land, options are limited for the Wizards. If Jim Bowden (Mr. Second Chance) was the Wizards GM, instead of the Nats, Miles would have been signed long ago.
Judging by the list of possibles composed on Bullets Forever, there are others who I’d rather have over Darius Miles. Matt Barnes stands out first and foremost. He’s fiery player who can knock down the trey, rebound, and defend. Some such as Tony Allen (not enough height), Devin Brown (ability to defend?), Maurice Evans (a big maybe) come to mind as possible preferences. After those on the list who are out of the Wizards price range, or already signed, the remnants leave nothing to be desired over a 26-year old prospect in Miles.
What Darius Miles brings to the table is shot-blocking, rebounding, and versatile defensive abilities derived from length and athleticism. I mentioned that I’d like someone who can shoot the long distance ball, but it’s not like Miles can’t score in a variety of ways. D-Miles wants to play for a contender (check) and is affordable (check) seeing that he will be happy trying to play his way back into the league on a one-year veteran’s minimum (Miles will still be getting $18 million from the Blazers).
Might the Wizards benefit from renting Miles for a year on the cheap, even if it might stunt the growth of Dominic McGuire? I’d say that the guy is at least worth a work out. But who knows what tricks Ernie Grunfeld has up his sleeve. Another possible could be Luke Jackson, who Stein also reports is getting interest from Dallas, Atlanta, and Memphis. In the end, we know that Grunfeld will lay low and strike when the time is right.