NBA AM: Miles Ready To Fight For Playoff Berth
Senior NBA Writer & College Basketball Editor
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For the first time in C.J. Miles’ career the swingman will be playing for a team other than the Utah Jazz. Drafted straight out of high school by the Jazz in 2005, Miles’ tenure with the team came to an end this offseason as he signed a two-year contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
“It was different,” Miles said of free agency in an exclusive interview with HOOPSWORLD. “Seven years in the same place I pretty much knew where I was going to be every summer coming out. This was the first summer I wasn’t restricted so I kind of had more power as far as going into the decision where I was going to be at. With Cleveland it was just about making the right basketball decision for myself. I felt it wasn’t about money; it wasn’t about anything but basketball. I felt like being able to grow more as a player and being able to find a place where they’re building a young core, to step in, help, and grow myself was a complete deal.”
The last time Miles was a free agent was the summer of 2008. The Oklahoma City Thunder signed him to a four-year offer sheet, but because he was restricted the Jazz held the right to match, which they did. At the time the Thunder were coming off of a 20-win season, but the foundation that helped build them into the Western Conference powerhouse that they are today was forming then and Miles sees something similar brewing in Cleveland.
“It’s a lot like that, I feel,” Miles said. “Honestly I’m a couple years older, but other than that it’s a similar situation. They have similar types of pieces with Kyrie (Irving) there, drafting Dion (Waiters) this year, and drafting Tyler Zeller, Tristan Thompson, there are a lot of young guys on the team. I’m one of the older guys and I’m 25 so that just lets you know where we stand with that. I think the oldest guy is Anderson (Varejao) and he’s 29. “
While at 25 years of age Miles’ fits in perfectly with the youth movement that the Cavaliers have embraced, he also brings seven years of experience that includes five trips to the postseason. He learned a lot during the first chapter of his career that will help him and the Cavaliers as a whole in their quest to return to the levels of success they experienced from 2006-2010.
“I feel like being at my age and being able to come into the situation I’m coming to now where it’s sort of a young team with guys who are trying to grow, I don’t feel like I’m that far ahead of some of the things,” Miles said. “But, as far as just being around and knowing what it takes, being on winning teams and being a part of it, playing roles into those teams I think helps coming into training camp with a team that’s trying to build and trying to do things as far as coming to work every day, coming in, and being focused every day no matter what it is we’re trying to do. I feel like I bring that just from being on those teams and the guys that I learned from. I played with Derek Fisher for a year, being around Deron (Williams) and Carlos Boozer and seeing those guys and the way they worked every day. Playing with them, I learned a lot.”
Despite being one of the elder statesmen of the team, Miles will still have someone with championship experience who he can learn from: his head coach Byron Scott. Scott won multiple championships with the Los Angeles Lakers as a player and helped lead the New Jersey Nets to two finals as a head coach. Few coaches are more respected more around the league.
At the end of the season Miles made some comments regarding the leadership in Utah that made it seem like he had a tenuous relationship with his former head coach Ty Corbin. However, Corbin played an intricate role in developing Miles when he was an assistant and they remained close even after his promotion.
The switch from playing for the inexperienced-in-comparison Corbin to Scott should be beneficial for Miles. But, that doesn’t change the fact that Miles and Corbin’s relationship was portrayed inaccurately.
“[Coach Scott is going to help me] a lot,” Miles said. “With the Coach Corbin thing the way it happened, though, I felt like the things I said were taken (out of context), like everything I said wasn’t said. I just felt like they asked me questions and I answered them truthfully with what I thought. I felt like where you have a situation where everyone is young from the head coach all the way down to the players at the end of the bench, there’s going to be times where people are lost and not know what’s going on. They asked me what I felt like could have been different and that’s what I said.
“Coming in with Coach Scott, what I know about him and the players I know that have played with him have said and just with the conversations I’ve had with him, I felt like I’m going to benefit just from obviously the style of play, getting up and down the floor. The freedom he gives the perimeter guys to make plays and just kind of play and the way he is, his bluntness, the way he pretty much feels like if he has to get in your face and tell you exactly what he wants that’s what he’s going to do.
“The biggest thing they’ve said they want to do is put guys out there who make basketball plays and know how to play the game. And I feel like I have the feel and the things to be able to do that, especially as we talked about before with this being a younger group, being able to step out there and help them. We all know how special Kyrie is. I’ve worked out with Dion this last week or so and he’s going to be great. Just stepping in there, being able to bring versatility and leadership from the knowledge that I do have is one of the things I really want to bring to the table.”
The general consensus is that the Cavaliers are a year or two away from truly hitting their stride due to the overall youth of the team. That isn’t the mindset Miles and his new teammates have, though.
“I feel like we’re one of those teams where obviously we’re not going to be talked about going into it but as far as players and guys in the league know coming into that gym or playing against us, it’s not going to be an easy game,” Miles said. “We’re at that step now where we’re going to be able to take a step where we can fight for the seventh, eighth seed and that first or second team is worried about coming in to play us; worried that it could be an upset because we don’t have anything to lose.
“Everybody on the team has a chip on their shoulder for some reason, people said Kyrie didn’t play enough college games, people said Dion shouldn’t have been drafted that high. Myself, coming to a fresh start and trying to prove something. And all the guys like (Daniel) Boobie Gibson and Andy that played on that winning team and lose the games they did, they want to get back to that. And all the young guys we want to prove that we can play and we belong. The biggest thing is that we all have the same goal, we all have a chip, and we all have a reason to fight.”
Hearing No Constantly Leads To Success For Clark
We all know how tough the professional sports world is thanks to how highly covered it is. Top-flight athletes battle it out on their respective playing fields with their livelihoods on the line during the season, but in today’s day and age, there is no offseason. Every moment that passes with inactivity is a moment that someone else is capitalizing on to get better.
Despite being less publicized, the sports agency world is no different and therefor just as tough to break into. Yet, at a young age Adrian Clark is already making his mark as an agent.
Clark, a lifelong sports fan with a Bachelor’s degree in communication from Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, runs AC Sports Management LLC, which currently features basketball players C.J. Miles and Dominique Kirk along with championship contending boxer Jerry Belmontes.
“I was groomed for it pretty early,” Clark said to HOOPSWORLD. “It started early so I knew I always wanted to do it. By my sophomore year in college I was pretty set, I knew I was going to be a sports agent. I had good friends around me, so I was groomed pretty well.”
Clark’s earliest experiences involved “running”, a term used in the sports agency world for a third-party who helps recruit for and assist an agent.
It was during that time that Clark quickly realized while he may be surrounded by quality friends, the business he entered wasn’t filled with a lot of friendly people.
“I’ve been told no a lot,” Clark said. “You can only get told no so many times no so much before you say ‘forget it, I’m just going to do my own thing’. I did a lot of research on my own. There were a lot of nights where either I opted not to go out or opted to stay in the house and do research on certain things, ask C.J. questions or ask different players questions.
“I didn’t waste my time. The first year I moved to Utah I was pretty much in the mindset that I needed to get things done to get in a certain position in six months or a year. Different agencies kept telling me no, either they felt I didn’t have the experience, or I wasn’t ready, or I didn’t have the particular guy that they wanted, and it got to the point where it was like you know what I’m confident enough and I think I have the experience to get this done myself. So going forward I’m very confident in my abilities.”
The opportunity to work with Miles that surfaced two years ago helped Clark see just how different things were behind the scenes. Previously they had just been close friends, but it didn’t take Clark long to prove that he was just as capable on the business side as well.
“Basically from my experience anything I’ve ever needed to get done he got it done,” Miles said. “I can’t think of one thing that we sat down and talked about wanting to do that we weren’t able to get done. That’s from the sports side, to the last thing. We’ve got a clothing line now. Everything we tried to do, he worked as hard as anybody I know. He’s the guy that as far as personal side, you feel like you can be around him, confide in him, really sit down, talk to, and get things done with.
“That’s one of the big ways I chose my agent when I came out of the draft, that it felt like they weren’t after as much money as they could squeeze out of me. I feel like that’s one of the biggest things, feeling comfortable and feeling like they have your best interest. I feel like he has the best interest in guys and what he wants to do for them. His biggest thing is being able to help people and to this day with guys he doesn’t represent and isn’t trying to represent, he still helps out just because of the fact he wants to see people be better and do the right things. I think that’s one of the best things you could ask of an agent, them being able to help you on the court, off the court, and in life. Not so much about how much money we can make because usually when you go about it that way you don’t make the money you want to make.”
While most agents will also claim to value their client’s best interests over money, Clark showed that in his dealings with his boxer Belmontes.
Belmontes, an undefeated (16-0) super featherweight fighter, was locked into a restrictive contract with a promoter that was keeping him out of the ring for long stretches. Clark not only got him out of that contract, but he’s also lined up two fights since.
“11 months he didn’t get paid, so I didn’t get paid,” Clark said. “But, I still busted my butt to get him out of that contract. Still got no’s from people or that they couldn’t do a certain job. There wasn’t a price behind it.”
“He helped me out a lot,” Belmontes added. “Coming in, I don’t want to say it was a risk, but he didn’t have any experience in boxing. I took that chance and he did great, did everything for me perfectly. He did everything he could in his power to get me out of that contract and I’m blessed that he did.”
With Miles landing in a promising situation in Cleveland with the Cavaliers and Belmontes back to being active enough to eventually earn a title shot, Clark new goal is to sign a NBA draft prospect.
“Just to get a draft pick period, a guy who I hear his name called,” Clark said. “That would be a big honor being a first-year agent.”
Long term, Clark isn’t looking to change anything that got him to where he is now. Close relationships have been a fixture in his success and he never wants to trade them for an expansive set of clientele.
“I really don’t want a long list of guys,” Clark said. “I don’t want to be known as just a guy who collects agents. I enjoy the personal relationships I have with the guys I work with so I think more so with me I want to branch out and have a guy who does football, have a guy who does basketball, of course have a big agency but I don’t want 150 guys on the roster and I only know personally seven of them and have a personal relationship where I talk all the time with three guys, I don’t think that’s good business in a sense. I want guys who I know personally.”
As key as personal relationships are, though, Clark wouldn’t be in the position he is now if it wasn’t for his perseverance. That’s the quality that all young, aspiring agents like him have to have.
“Hearing the word no isn’t the end of all ends,” Clark says. “Everybody is not able to do it themselves so I don’t want to preach to guys forget trying to work for an agency, do it yourself. Working with an agency would be beneficial to some guys, even if you have to try 10 or 12 times to get on with someone or learn under someone. It helps.
“I feel my internship with an agency working directly under C.J.’s (helped), but it’s not the point that he introduced me to everyone who needed to be known or took me to practices. He put me in a position where it was like ok you know what, you’re in the driver seat now. It’s either get it done or be with everyone else so to speak. So, don’t take no as that’s the end of all ends. Continue to work to get something done. If it comes to a point where you’re just fed up then of course have the means, clientele, and people on your side to set something up but don’t let no stop you. Continue to keep going and try to get something done until you’re satisfied.”
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