It’s Always Sunny in Portland

The salary cap is a fickle game in which GMs and owners are as turncoat and conniving as the brats on 90210.

Actually, it’s not like 90210 so much as it’s like another one of my favorite shows (yes, I like 90210).

One of my favorite TV shows is It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. It’s irreverent, crude, hilarious, brilliant, and perfect for any person from the age of 16 to 60, that doesn’t still buy into the BS, ill-conceived notion that it’s wrong to judge people. There have been so many hilarious moments in this show’s history:

None of these are Suitable for Work

You see what I mean? For the three people on this planet that still hadn’t seen this show, those three clips and one promotion for the new season should be enough to convince you to start watching. So what does ANY of this have to do with the NBA salary cap situation? I’m glad you asked that.

Remember when the Portland Trailblazers tried to pass off Darius Miles as a broken down, must retire piece of cap relief? They tried to get his incomprehensible contract off of their books by saying he needed to retire due to injury and it nearly worked. In fact, had it worked the Blazers would have been about $16 million under the cap figure this off-season and in position to add one more major piece to their young core before the extensions of Brandon Roy and LaMarcus Aldridge start being discussed.

But something happened; the Boston Celtics signed Miles last fall and played him for a few games in the pre-season and a few games in the regular season before letting him go. The significance of this was if Miles played 10 games total last year, his contract would go back on the books for the Blazers and their cap space would drop to around $7-10 million this summer. Well in an effort to hurt the Blazers future plans of building a dynasty, the Portland front office knew some team would sign Miles and get him to the 10-games played landmark in order to slow the progress of the only team in the Northwest.

Blazers’ president, Larry Miller, tried to put a stop to it before any team dare mess with his rebuilding plan by threatening everybody with this memo:

“Team Presidents and General Managers,

The Portland Trail Blazers are aware that certain teams may be contemplating signing Darius Miles to a contract for the purpose of adversely impacting the Portland Trail Blazers Salary Cap and tax positions. Such conduct from a team would violate its fiduciary duty as an NBA joint venturer. In addition, persons or entities involved in such conduct may be individually liable to the Portland Trail Blazers for tortuously interfering with the Portland Trail Blazers’ contract rights and perspective economic opportunities.

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.”

Unfortunately for them, that made an owner like Michael Heisley take that challenge to heart and sign Miles. Darius reached his 10-game mark and then some to take away Portland’s chances of making a big splash in the free agent market this summer. Instead of being able to offer Hedo Turkoglu money he couldn’t refuse, they were only able to offer him something Toronto could easily match and they ended up losing him to Canada. It was all because Michael Heisley finally decided to try to be a competent NBA owner by screwing over the Blazers.

So what does this have to do with It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia?

Well, there’s an episode in the second season of Sunny PA (just an easy way to shorten the title in conversation) in which Mac ends up having sexual relations with Dennis’ mom. In fact, the episode is titled, “Mac Bangs Dennis’ Mom.” In the episode, Mac has foreword advances from Dennis’ mom while visiting to pick up some things. He decides to not “bang” her because she’s the mom of his friend even though he really wants to. Their other friend Charlie (the one that thought “Private” read “Pirate”) is in a feud with Dennis because Dennis is blackmailing him by threatening to sleep with a girl Charlie is obsessed with (but who wants nothing to do with him). So in retaliation, Charlie convinces Mac to sleep with Dennis’ mom so he can set up a chain reaction of backlash and chaos.

Charlie shows Mac leaving the mom’s house to Dennis one morning and Dennis’ reaction is to kill Mac. But Charlie convinces him that it wouldn’t “un-bang his mom.” He convinces Dennis to attempt to sleep with Mac’s mom, despite that being arguably the most disgusting thing anyone could ever do. And that’s what brings us to the latest in salary cap banging.

The Blazers were furious after the Grizzlies intentionally signed Darius Miles and played him to hurt their future cap space. They wanted to sue and get thousands of other team’s dollars tied up in litigation. But none of that ever happened because they knew their own threats were baseless. So instead, they waited for their opportunity this summer to try and hurt another team’s salary cap and that’s exactly what they attempted with the Paul Millsap offer sheet.

Part of them had to know that they were probably never going to get Paul Millsap into a Blazers uniform for next season. They offered Millsap an offer sheet of roughly $36 million over four years once it was clear that the market for the restricted free agent outside of Utah was completely dry. The Knicks and the Thunder were the only teams with any real cap room to bring him in and neither franchise had Paul in their long-term plans. So Portland took it upon themselves to strike a deal with Millsap because it was seemingly a win-win situation for them.

Worst-case scenario, the Jazz didn’t match the offer sheet and Millsap joined the young, dynamic frontcourt of Greg Oden, LaMarcus Aldridge, and Joel Pryzbilla. Best-case scenario for Portland was the Jazz matched the offer sheet and had to take out a substantial loan in order to cover the signing bonus-laden deal that was designed to hurt Utah financially. Well, the Jazz decided to match the offer sheet, have to take out the loan to cover the initial expenses for retaining Millsap and now have to decide whether or not they want to pay the $10 million+ penalty in luxury tax costs next summer or trade Carlos Boozer in order to shed some money this year while hurting their depth and frontcourt power.

Portland ended up making this decision because they had the ability to do so. It was created by the Darius Miles fiasco and part of me believes that they were still bitter about the fallout and financial restrictions from Memphis playing a useless D-Miles just to hurt Portland. Part of me believes the Blazers wanted to retaliate with another team in the West and took it out on Utah.

And you can’t really blame them. Their mom/salary cap situation was completely banged/ruined because of petty and shrewd business moves. They weren’t wronged in any way. Every team in the NBA should have been prepared to do what Memphis did just like every team with cap space should have tried to drive up the asking price for Paul Millsap, knowing that Utah was almost certain to match. That’s just a good business practice and a way to keep the competition down. Portland tried to retaliate by banging/ruining someone else’s mom/salary cap situation.

Unfortunately, that didn’t un-bang Portland’s salary cap and they still haven’t been able to add a big piece to their roster.

Seth Carstens