Cavs Hold Onto Miller -- For Now - Cleveland 19 News Cleveland, OH

Cavs Hold Onto Miller -- For Now

By TOM WITHERS, AP Sports Writer

CLEVELAND (AP) - The Cavaliers traded one guard, drafted another and kept the one everyone expects will eventually leave.

With rumors rampant that star Andre Miller would be dealt, the Cavs used the No. 6 overall pick in Wednesday night's NBA draft to select Memphis guard Dajuan Wagner.

Later, the Cavs finally made a move, sending guard Wesley Person to Memphis for guard Nick Anderson and UCLA forward Matt Barnes, taken by the Grizzlies at No. 46.

Miller now has a backcourt mate -- and maybe an heir apparent.

"Dajuan Wagner is part of what I wanted to bring to Cleveland," said Cavs coach John Lucas. "There are a lot of things this kid can do."

Wagner, who once scored 100 points in a high school game, could end up taking over point guard duties in Cleveland for Miller, the league's assists leader who can be a free agent next season and is coveted by several teams.

The Cavs' selection of 19-year-old Wagner -- he played just one year of college ball -- has temporarily squelched talk that Miller was being traded to either the Los Angeles Clippers or New York Knicks.

"We have not been trying to trade Andre Miller," Cavs general manager Jim Paxson said. "Andre has had three terrific years in Cleveland. We think a lot of Andre and so do a lot of teams."

Miller, eligible for a contract extension July 1, has said he wants a "maximum" contract from the Cavs. But the team, which owner Gordon Gund is rumored to be selling, doesn't plan to offer Miller a new deal until he becomes an unrestricted free agent next season.

Paxson said he met with Miller's agent, Lon Babby, on Tuesday to discuss the guard's future in Cleveland.

"We talked about what it will take to keep Andre," Paxson said.

The 6-foot-2 Wagner has been described as a shooting guard stuck in a point guard's body, and he'll give the Cavs a scoring threat and a backup plan in case they don't re-sign Miller.

"He was the best player on the board for us," Paxson said. "He's athletic, explosive, strong and has the ability to score right away. He's got huge upside at 19 years old."

With their second-round pick (35th overall), the Cavs chose Duke forward Carlos Boozer.

The burly Boozer averaged 18.2 points as a junior last season, and was MVP of the ACC tournament. He'll give the Cavs some much-needed inside muscle.

"We were surprised that he was there," Paxson said.

Wagner, who averaged 21.2 points per game as a freshman, said he's "just a guard," but said he could run the point if Miller gets traded.

"I think I can play the point," Wagner said. "I just do everything to help my team win."

Playing the 6-foot-2 Miller and Wagner together will certainly make the Cavs more entertaining on offense. But it could lead to big problems on the defensive end as they try to match up against taller, stronger guards.

There's little doubt that Wagner can score.

As a high school senior in Camden, N.J., Wagner averaged 42.5 points per game and scored 100 in a rout of Gloucester Tech. He finished his prep career as the state's all-time leading scorer.

Wagner averaged 21.2 points and 3.6 assists while leading Memphis to an NIT title last season. However, shot just 41 percent from the floor and forced many of his attempts.

But that didn't stop the Cavs from selecting the son of Milt Wagner, a former NBA guard who won an NBA title as a rookie with the Lakers in 1988.

"He's been around the pro game a lot," Lucas said. "He has a pro game already."

Person spent five seasons with the Cavs, who got him in a three-way trade in 1997. He averaged a career-high 15.1 points last season, his first under Lucas.

Paxson said trading Person "wasn't a basketball move" and that the deal was made to give the club more economic flexibility next summer.

"It was not about the value of Wes," Paxson said. "But you have to ask, 'Is he a part of our future?' The answer is, no."

Person had two years left on a deal that would pay him $7 million next season and $9 million in 2003-2004.

Anderson has averaged 14.4 points during a 13-year career with Orlando, Sacramento and Memphis.

(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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