June 28, 2002 at 8:36 PM EST - Updated July 3 at 4:15 PM
CLEVELAND (AP) - Dajuan Wagner is confident he can help the Cleveland Cavaliers win -- with or without Andre Miller.
Cavaliers general manager Jim Paxson insisted Friday the first-round selection of Wagner was not made to replace Miller, the NBA assists leader who has been involved in trade rumors.
"That is not true," Paxson said. "We were not looking to trade Andre and still don't want to trade him. We look at a backcourt of Andre and Dajuan as helping our team."
That's exactly what Wagner, the 19-year-old son of former NBA guard Milt Wagner, wants to do.
"I'm ready to start my career as a Cavalier," said the 6-foot-2 guard, who averaged 21.2 points and 3.6 assists in his only college season at Memphis. He was the No. 6 pick overall in Wednesday night's draft.
"I don't feel any pressure," Wagner said at Gund Arena in his first meeting with the Cleveland media. "I grew up around the NBA and know what to expect on and off the court. I just love the game and want to play.
"Andre is quite a player and I look forward to working with him."
Cavs coach John Lucas said Wagner should expect to do just that.
"I'm excited about having another great guard to work with," said Lucas on a teleconference call from Memphis, where he was meeting with Wagner's college coach, John Calipari.
Lucas then addressed Wagner:
"Dajuan, you've got a couple of assignments right now. Number one, work on the pick and roll with (center) DeSagana (Diop, last year's No. 1 draft pick). And number two, keep that weight off him."
Diop, a 7-foot 19-year-old, played little as a rookie, battling weight, injuries and other problems.
Paxson asked Lucas if he had any assignments for him.
"Jim, just keep your best players, that's all I ask," Lucas said.
Paxson said his intention is to keep both the 6-foot-2 Miller and Wagner and re-sign free agent swingman Ricky Davis.
"Having Andre, Dajuan and Ricky in the lineup makes it easier for our big guys inside," Paxson said. "Those three can make plays and make other teams adjust to us and open up things inside."
Paxson stopped short of guaranteeing Miller would not be traded.
"If people will talk, we will listen," Paxson said. "People outside our organization seem more interested in trading Andre than we do."
Miller, eligible for a contract extension July 1, has said he wants a "maximum" contract. The Cavs, amidst rumors that owner Gordon Gund wants to sell the team, don't plan to make an offer until Miller becomes an unrestricted free agent next year.
"Right now, our priority is getting Dajuan signed by mid-July," Paxson said. "You can never have enough shooters, and Dajuan can shoot."
As a high school senior in Camden, N.J., Wagner averaged 42.5 points and scored 100 in a rout of Gloucester Tech.
"I just played my game that night, I didn't really feel anything special," Wagner said.
Paxson then turned into a reporter.
"I want to know how many assists you got that game," Paxson asked.
"Six," replied Wagner, who has been compared to Philadelphia 76er All-Star Allen Iverson.
"He's a great guard and I take that as a compliment," Wagner said. "I like taking the ball to the hole, but I'll do whatever they want."
(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)