Thursday , Jan , 22 , 2004 C.Y. Ellis

Can Darius Miles find his game in Portland?

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) – Portland forward Darius Miles is just
22-years-old, and he has already been traded twice during his short career.

On Wednesday, the Cavaliers shipped Miles to Portland for point guard Jeff
McInnis and center Ruben Boumtje Boumtje. The high-flying Miles had landed in
Cleveland on July 29, 2002 when he was traded by the Los Angeles Clippers
along with Harold Jamison for Andre Miller and Bryant Stith.

Originally selected out of East St. Louis High School (IL) by the Clippers in
the first round (third pick overall) of the 2000 NBA Draft, Miles came into
the league with high expectations. He was expected to help a young Clippers
squad grow into one of the most electrifying teams in the league.

In his rookie season, Miles, who teamed with Quentin Richardson to form an
exciting, high-flying duo for the Clippers, played in 81 games and averaged
9.4 points and 5.9 rebounds in a little over 26 minutes of action per night. A
solid season for a 19-year-old rookie.

In year two, Miles production was similar to his rookie campaign. He appeared
in all 82 of LA’s regular-season contests and averaged 9.5 points and 5.5
boards in 27 minutes per game.

Unfortunately, it did not work out in LA for Miles, who seemed to be
comfortable with his Clipper teammates. The Clippers felt they needed a point
guard and gave up Miles in order to get Miller from the Cavaliers.

The Cavs acquired Miles with the expectations that he would be their starting
small forward of the future. The 6-9, 210-pound Miles played in 67 games for
Cleveland last season, and averaged career-lows in points (9.2 ppg) and
rebounds (5.4 rpg) in 30 minutes per contest.

This season, under new head coach Paul Silas, Miles’ minutes were down and he
had only started 16 of the 37 games he had played in for the Cavs. The young
forward seemed to have become frustrated with his role.

On Monday, Miles was fined $2,500 by Silas for missing practice. He then
played his final game for Cleveland on Tuesday against the Seattle
SuperSonics, and on Wednesday he had a new home.

“When we traded for Darius, he was a young guy with potential,” Cleveland
general manager Jim Paxson told the Cleveland Plain Dealer. “I’m not
disappointed [in Miles’ development]. Unless you have a crystal ball, you
can’t determine how quickly a player is going to develop. In two or three
years he could become more of a consistent player that’s a starter. What I’m
worried about is how we can find a way to get better now and win before that
time.”

Portland, which could be on the verge of a fire sale of its roster, is excited
to acquire Miles and give him a fresh start.

“In Darius Miles we acquire a superior athlete who has already successfully
completed almost four years in the league,” said Blazers general manager John
Nash.

Miles should get a new lease on life in the NBA with Portland. The Blazers are
expected to start to rebuild their team with young talent through the draft,
trades and free agency.

“Due to his youth he (Miles) has an opportunity to continue to grow and
develop as a player,” said Nash. “Darius brings a level of excitement with his
ability to run the floor and excel in transition. If he had gone to college,
Darius would be a senior right now. With the addition of Darius and the two
first round picks we have in the upcoming draft, the franchise is establishing
a core of young talent to build around.”

Getting traded to the Blazers was the best thing that could have happened to
Miles, who will take orders from former NBA great point guard Maurice Cheeks,
who is Portland’s head coach.

Rumors have been running wild with the possibility of Portland trading forward
Rasheed Wallace. Maybe this is a sign of things to come, as Nash could have a
vision of Miles starting at small forward next to 22-year-old power forward
Zach Randolph.

It seems that Miles is penciled in as part of Portland’s future. There will be
plenty of playing time for Miles with and once again he will try to prove that
he is a rising star in the league. The third team could be the charm for
Miles.