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Coast To Coast

January 18, 2009|Mark Heisler

Something to remember him by

In a storybook ending, Darius Miles' appearance in Memphis' loss Friday at Utah put Portland back on the hook for $18 million in luxury tax and halved the Trail Blazers' maximum salary slot this summer.

The team's threat to sue was a joke, showing, aside from bad legal advice, they have a bad case of themselves.

General Manager Kevin Pritchard told the Oregonian's John Canzano opponents may target them because "we're winning, and it's the whole organization they see in a position to have success."

Actually, no one gives it that much thought. If Memphis GM Chris Wallace knew re-signing Miles would affect the Trail Blazers, they're the least of his worries.

There are teams no one wants to help, but Portland is way down that list, which starts with one in New England, and one within driving distance.

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Roll over, Red

In a well-kept secret, not to mention a departure from Red Auerbach's (puff puff) tradition, the NBA's most hated team is charming off the floor, if not on it. Take last week's postgame news conference after the Celtics beat Toronto, when Kevin Garnett appeared with Paul Pierce, who had scored 39 points.

"They need to start playing some of that 'Superman' theme music in the building when he's going like that," Garnett said. "You all know that theme music?"

Garnett then hummed the theme from the movie.

"Yeah, seems like everybody know it," Garnett said. "Superman, he was 13 for 26 tonight with 39 points, nine rebounds and four assists. This is Clark Kent right here, a.k.a. Paul Pierce. . . .

"I'll be Batman. I'll be Robin. I'll be anybody you want me to be. I'll be the garbage man."

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Blessed are the peacemakers

Aside from his shot-blocking, Houston re-signed 42-year-old Dikembe Mutombo to cool out its players, who are fuming about Tracy McGrady's comings and goings.

Of course, with Mutombo, who acknowledged the problem, you also get candor.

"I'm planning to get people under the ground and into the bunker and we're going to discuss the problems like Vice President Dick Cheney," Mutombo said.

"Just let me get them into the bunker like Vice President Cheney. I won't start any wars. And I won't shoot anybody in the hunting field either."

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Lakers alumni update: Kwame

In our continuing series, so Lakers fans can count their blessings, let's catch up with Kwame Brown, in Detroit with a two-year, $8-million deal, frustrating another team.

He now backs up 21-year-old Amir Johnson, who just went three games in which he had four points, four rebounds and 13 fouls in 36 minutes.

Nevertheless, Coach Michael Curry says Johnson will keep starting ahead of Brown and Jason Maxiell. "Amir has sort of separated himself from those guys," Curry said.

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One big happy family again

With Monta Ellis close to returning after last summer's moped accident, the Golden State Warriors may no longer be a shambles . . . on the court.

Ellis' agent, Jeff Fried, filed a grievance when the team reserved the right to take further action after suspending Ellis, suggesting that the Warriors might void his new $66-million deal.

Fried is expected to meet with team officials before Ellis plays, but Ellis now insists he never talked about leaving, or not wanting to play for Don Nelson.

Who could ask for more?

-- Mark Heisler

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