The Trail Blazers’ 50-year anniversary season is temporarily on pause as the NBA goes on hiatus to slow the spread of COVID-19. During that break, Blazer’s Edge is counting down the top 100 Blazers: players, executives, and other influencers who made the franchise what it is today.
No. 89 | Darius Miles
Games Played with Blazers: 145 Regular Season
*PTS: 13.1| REB: 4.6 | AST: 2.0 | FG%: 48.7
*Statistics are pulled from a player’s time in Portland
Departed Club: April 2008, Medical Waiver
Place in History: By January of 2004, the shine had worn off of the Trail Blazers’ turn-of-the-millennium “Traveling All-Star Team”. Scottie Pippen and Aryvdas Sabonis were gone. Rasheed Wallace was deep into “cut the check” territory and would soon be exiting. The Blazers were in desperate need of new talent and new hope.
Enter Darius Miles.
The time of the dominant center was passing, but the NBA had not yet become accustomed to rule changes that would gradually allow small guards to take over the league. Nor had statisticians gotten through to coaches about the value of the three-pointer. It was the brief, yet glorious, age of the forward. Teams prized small forwards who were rangy, quick, could rebound and initiate the fast break themselves, and could get to the cup or pull up in the halfcourt. In this environment, Miles glittered with potential. At 6’9, he had the height of a power forward, yet he could dribble like a guard. His wingspan resembled a condor next to the duck-duck-goose small forwards of the time. He could run the floor like a gazelle and dunk with enough authority to shake your fillings loose.
The Blazers paid little to get Miles. He gave them half a season to remember, throwing down slams and hitting jumpers, amassing an incredible 52.6% shooting percentage over 42 games. It was enough to earn him a six-year contract from the Blazers, ranging between $7-9 million per.
Soon afterwards, Miles began having trouble. Personal issues threatened, physical condition deteriorated along with shooting percentages. Knee problems would sideline him indefinitely. In April of 2008, the Blazers would receive a medical waiver, clearing the final two years of his salary off of their books for cap purposes. The Memphis Grizzlies would subsequently sign him to 10-day contracts, playing him enough games (34 at 8.8 minutes per) to void the medical retirement and place the obligation back on Portland’s books. The disastrous finale cannot obscure his dazzling ability or the career that might have been, good for 89 on our Top 100 list.
Discuss your thoughts and memories of Darius Miles below, and check back every day as we continue to countdown to No. 1.