July 30, 2002 at 5:54 PM EST - Updated June 29 at 11:30 PM
By TOM WITHERS, AP Sports Writer
CLEVELAND (AP) - Andre Miller can stay in Los Angeles when the summer's over.
Miller was traded to one of his hometown's two NBA teams Tuesday, dealt by the Cleveland Cavaliers along with guard Bryant Stith to the Clippers for forwards Darius Miles and Harold Jamison.
After failing to finalize a deal on draft day last month, the teams finally reached an agreement to swap Miller and Miles -- two of the league's rising stars -- on Monday.
"Darius Miles was the player we coveted in this deal," Cavs general manager Jim Paxson said at a news conference Tuesday afternoon. "Sometimes you have to make bold moves to get better in the future."
Elgin Baylor, the Clippers' vice president of basketball operations, released a statement saying it was difficult to trade a player with Miles' potential.
"The one thing that makes this both easier and exciting is a situation like this when you are getting a proven player in return who has established himself as one of the top five point guards in the NBA," Baylor said.
The Cavs and Clippers had been working on a trade since before the June 26 NBA draft and thought they could pull one off that night but it fell through.
However, the sides remained in contact the past few weeks and finally reached an agreement on a deal that will have a major impact on both franchises.
Miller is coming off his best pro season. He averaged 16.5 points and a league-leading 10.9 assists, becoming the first Cavs player to lead the NBA in an offensive category in 10 years.
The 26-year-old guard from Los Angeles, though, had made the Cavs nervous with his contract situation. He can become a restricted free agent after this season, and he had made it clear to the team that he wanted a maximum contract.
But the Cavaliers had no plans to pay nearly $80 million to Miller, who will make $2.5 million next season. Owner Gordon Gund has denied he is selling the team.
The Cavaliers also didn't want to negotiate any new deal until Miller became an unrestricted free agent next season.
In exchange for Miller, the Cavs are getting Miles, a 6-9 bundle of energy and athleticism the club hopes can boost ticket sales at lifeless Gund Arena next season and beyond.
He averaged 9.5 points and 5.5 rebounds last season and helped the Clippers partially shed their woeful image as one of the league's worst teams.
Miles, who turns 21 in October, was taken by the Clippers with the No. 3 pick in the 2000 NBA draft out of high school. He averaged 9.4 points in 81 games as a rookie, and showed flashes of future stardom.
Miller's departure means the Cavs need a point guard. That job could go to rookie Dajuan Wagner, a shooting guard taken by Cleveland with the sixth pick in last month's draft. Wagner has played well during the Cavs' summer league.
The Cavs also could trade for a point guard and reportedly are interested in Antonio Daniels, who is on the trading block in San Antonio.
Cleveland's only other point guard under contract is 33-year-old Bimbo Coles, who was slowed by knee injuries last season.
The Clippers have two other point guards -- Keyon Dooling, who was limited to 14 games last season because of an ankle injury, and 23-year-old Marko Jaric, a second-round draft pick two years ago who signed a multiyear contract recently. Jaric has been playing in the Italian League.
Jeff McInnis, the starter last season, is an unrestricted free agent who has yet to be signed. His backup, former Cavalier Earl Boykins, was released by the Clippers last month.
Jamison, 25, was signed as a free agent by the Clippers shortly before the start of last season. He averaged 1.9 points and 1.6 rebounds in 25 games.
Stith, 31, missed 12 games last season because of a hip flexor and underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right knee last week. He is not expected to miss the start of training camp in October.
(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)