NBA Subpoena Brawl Erupts From Seton Hall’s Feud With Ex-Star

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Former Seton Hall All-American Myles Powell is NBA bound—at least in the form of his ongoing legal dispute with the Big East School.

Earlier this month, Seton Hall sent subpoenas to all 30 NBA teams, seeking a trove of scouting materials and other documents that scrutinized Powell, who is suing his former school, its one-time men’s basketball coach Kevin Willard, and its longtime director of sports medicine Tony Testa, for gross negligence over their handling of his injuries.

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Already, one NBA club is fighting back, arguing that the release of the information sought by the petitioners would cause “competitive harm” to its entire player scouting operation.

On Wednesday, the Memphis Grizzlies filed a motion in federal court seeking to quash or limit the scope of the subpoena to “protect its business interests and confidential trade secrets.”

“There exists no good reason to draw Memphis Basketball into a dispute between Seton Hall and a former NCAA basketball player that involves secret text messages, under-the-table pain narcotic administration, and failure to properly diagnose an injury,” the Grizzlies’ motion states, alluding to the allegations Powell has made against Seton Hall.

The filing adds: “Like any professional sports team, the analysis of a potential player, and how said player fits into a long-term planning (or short-term acquisition) goal, is highly confidential. Indeed, the format in which Memphis Basketball compiles scouting reports and/or rates players, is competitively sensitive information.”

Powell originally filed his lawsuit against Seton Hall, Willard and Testa in 2021, alleging that the coach and team doctor had initially misdiagnosed the extent of an ankle injury he suffered in late 2019 and instructed him to continue playing, saying that doing so would cause no further injury.

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However, he soon began experiencing sharp knee pain, at which point, Powell alleges, Testa began regularly injecting pain medication into the player’s knee before games to keep him active. Powell says he did not know at the time that he was continuing to play with a torn meniscus.

In his lawsuit, Powell blamed the injury management—or lack thereof—for his not being selected in the 2020 NBA Draft.

“Such a standout college career capped by such a successful senior year should have guaranteed Mr. Powell to be selected as a lottery pick in the NBA Draft,” his lawsuit states, “but the professionals connected to the various teams in the NBA had suspected or discovered that Mr. Powell had a serious injury to his right knee that had gone untreated.”

Willard left Seton Hall in March 2022 to become head coach at Maryland.

The defendants, who are all being represented by the same attorneys, argue that there was no way for them to reasonably know, based on the available MRI reports at the time, that Powell had suffered a meniscus tear.

Though initially filed in the Superior Court of New Jersey, Powell’s lawsuit was later removed to federal court. In April 2022, the U.S. District judge overseeing his case dismissed all 12 of Powell’s claims without prejudice, allowing him to amend his pleadings.

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Powell’s second amended complaint survived the defendants’ motion to dismiss in November. (Jasmine Smith, a former women’s basketball player at Seton Hall who suffered an ACL tear, is a co-plaintiff in the lawsuit; similarly to Powell, Smith alleges that the school and athletic staff were grossly negligent in addressing her injury and recovery, which cost her professionally.)

The Seton Hall parties’ subpoena to the Grizzlies, which is believed to be substantially identical to those that other NBA teams received, seeks “all reports, records and documents” related to Powell including the team’s “complete scouting file” on him and any medical records of Powell’s that the team obtained. (Attached to the subpoena is a HIPPA waiver Powell recently signed, authorizing the team to disclose his personal or health-related information.)

The Grizzlies, in their motion, complained about the breadth of the subpoena, which begins by asking for “any and all documentation of every nature and description … which in any manner refer to, and/or concerns Myles Powell.”

“These laundry list of phrases seek not only the kitchen sink but the pipes heading to the MLGW pumping station,” the Grizzlies grumbled.

The emerging document dispute calls to mind a similar subpoenaing of NBA teams two years ago by AIG, following a lawsuit filed against the insurance giant by former pro basketball player Chandler Parsons.

In 2020, Parsons was injured in a vehicle accident in Georgia, bringing to a close his NBA career. He subsequently sued AIG after he alleged that it failed to pay the full value of the claim for his uninsured motorist coverage, which included a baseline $500,000 limit per accident and $10 million umbrella.

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In turn, AIG subpoenaed each NBA team seeking 28 categories of information that related to Parsons. As in the Powell case, Memphis, which signed Parsons to a four-year, $94 million contract in 2016, moved to quash the subpoena, after which the parties came to an agreement on the scope of the discovery request. However, Parsons and AIG eventually agreed to a settlement, rendering AIG’s subpoenas moot.

How will things play out this time?

“There is nothing under the law that is ever a slam dunk, because it is up to the judge,” Richard Glassman, the Grizzlies’ Memphis-based outside counsel, told Sportico.

An attorney representing the Seton Hall parties did not respond to an email and text message seeking comment.

After going undrafted in 2020, Powell signed a free-agent deal with the New York Knicks but was waived without making the roster. He had a brief, 11-game stint with the Philadelphia 76ers during the 2021-2022 season, before signing what was reportedly a seven-figure deal with the Bay Area Dragons of the East Asia Super League. Earlier this month, Powell scored four points in a game with the Houston Rockets’ NBA Summer League team, before going down with an ankle injury.

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