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The 15th Man: The Case for Darius Miles

The Celtics [1] are having a fairly boring training camp, which is good when you’re the defending champs. There are no contract squabbles, no petty animosities and no feuding.

The only actual decision still to be made is who will be the odd man out. With 16 players in camp, and 15 roster spots available, someone has to go. Some were calling for Brian Scalabrine’s head, but Danny Ainge squashed that notion, which was never a realistic possibility anyway considering that Scal has two years and more than $6 million coming to him.

Assuming the rookies are safe, that leaves Darius Miles, Sam Cassell, and Gabe Pruitt [2] fighting for one spot, and Miles is the only one without a guaranteed contract. After the jump, the case for, and against, D-Miles.

There are two legitimate reasons why Miles shouldn’t make it.

1. He is facing a 10-game suspension for allegedly taking a diet suppressant. Miles insists he did no such thing, but the Celtics convinced him to drop the appeal anyway.

2. He has not played in two years after undergoing microfracture knee surgery.

Miles was impressive, if a little rusty, when I saw him at UMass in the Celtics first exhibition game, but he has not had a comparable performance in any of the last three preseason games. How much of that is the injury, and how much of that is simply being away from the game is still to be determined. Obviously, the remaining preseason slate is very important for him.

Still, there are compelling reasons why Miles should be on the roster.

1. Now that James Posey [3] is in New Orleans, the Celtics are noticeably thin behind Paul Pierce [4] at small forward. Miles is the only legitimately-sized veteran swingman on the roster behind Pierce.

2. The Portland factor: If Miles plays 10 games for the Celtics, the $18 million he has coming to him from the Trail Blazers goes back on their cap. The Blazers are a lurking monster in the West with a roster packed with young talent. Taking on that kind of cap hit could severely limit their options the next few years. Teams have held on to players for worse reasons.

3. Again, if he’s healthy, Miles is simply too talented to give up on.

Doc Rivers [5] was coy when the beat guys asked him if Cassell would possibly become an assistant coach saying, “I don’t know yet.” That situation bears watching over the next few days.


Free Darko’s awesome every-game preview continues [6].

Basketball Prospectus tries to answer the question: Do preseason stats matter [7]?

Kobe Bryant [8] wasn’t talking [9] when reporters tried to ask him about signing with a European team.

The reason [10] for the questions.