The answer to this question is the real problem. After the Allan Houston thing the league attempted to define this and modified the rules to what they are today.
Unfortunately they didn't get it quite right, which is why we have the brouhaha going on over Darius Miles today.
The rule is designed to provide relief to teams whose players suffer career ending injuries. Miles injury is so bad his knee can NOT support a professional basketball career. The team doctor, independant doctors, the NBA doctor, and the players assciations own doctor all agreed upon this. There is simply ZERO chance they got this wrong. If you've never seen them I have to tell you that the quality of todays MRI and XRay exams is nothing short of amazing. You can see every single thing inside the knee. (We just had this done on my sons knee Wednesday night. He has an injured MCL.)
Name one credible MEDICAL source that says Miles knee is okay. You can't, because there aren't any. There are agents and team officials and even Miles himself selling stories about his knee. But they are all FLUFF.
It's not a question of IF Miles knee will break if he plays professional basketball, it's a question of WHEN.
Notice nobodys offering Miles a 2 or 3 year deal? If they were so certain his knee was okay they would. SInce we have this arbitrary ten game rule, teams have found a way to use that to gain a competitive and financial advantage against the Trailblazers by exploiting Miles and his desire to resume the rockstar style life of an NBA player. I don't like what these teams are doing, but they aren't breaking any rules.
I also don't like the ten game rule. This situation has illustrated the problem with it. I'm not saying the Blazers should be given a pass on this. The rules are the rules and everybody has to play by them. But I will say the ten game thing should be changed, and the career ending injury status redifined.
If your mechanic says don't drive your car, but you know it will start and go down the road it doesn't mean your car is okay. It means your car is living on borrowed time. IF you choose to drive it, you know eventually it WILL break.
Miles knee is like that. Whether it's a good choice or not to play professional basketball on that knee, it remains HIS choice.
The Blazers didn't try and force him to play on that knee, they paved the way for him to retire while he was still in good enough health to be able to walk on it, and they made sure through their insurance carrier he will get paid the full 48 million dollars that were on his contract. They acted responsibly. They went through the process with the doctors, the league, and the players association to make this all happen.
Competitors are now trying to use that ten game loophole and Darius Miles desire to resume the lifestyle of an NBA player to their advantage against the Blazers. I don't like it, but that's the way it is, and they are within their rights to do so.
The Blazers had this called right. And they knew the Grizzlies were about to resign Miles. The Blazers knew they were screwed. They did what a lot of people in America do. They had their lawyer write a nasty letter threatening litigation. Most likely nothing will ever come of it. But you never know. You CAN sue anybody for anything. Doesn't mean you will ever collect a dime, but you will force the other party to defend themselves. In the courts you defend yourself by spending money. Who has deeper pockets than Paul Allen? Maybe you don't like what the Blazers did here. But just like with Darius Miles and the Memphis Grizzlies, they were well within their rights to do so.
I doubt the league will ever offer Portland any relief for this situation. I do hope however, they take another look at the rules and see what can be done to make them better. Maybe Darius Miles shouldn't even be allowed to play if a doctor says that his knee is so injured it's likely to break if subjected to the rigors of professional basketball. Of course if you go that route you run the risk of somebody claiming you are taking away Darius right to work. Maybe you don't have the ten game rule. If the doctors say they are broken, they are broken and you get the relief. Or maybe you change the ten games to a full season, which is probably a better measure of whether someone is capable of playing competitively on a regular basis.