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Clippers Going Miles for Miller

July 30, 2002|ELLIOTT TEAFORD | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The Clippers have landed the standout point guard they so coveted this off-season, but will pay a price for acquiring Andre Miller from the Cleveland Cavaliers in a trade that will be formally announced either today or Wednesday.

Neither team would comment for the record Monday, but a league source confirmed that the Clippers have agreed to send reserve forwards Darius Miles and Harold Jamison to Cleveland to get Miller and guard Bryant Stith.

"There is nothing conclusive to report at this time, but we're still working on it," said Joe Safety, Clipper vice president of communications.

Miller, the league's leader in assists last season with an average of 10.9, will direct an offense that promises to be among the most exciting in the NBA next season. Miller will have a great deal of options with the Clippers, including Elton Brand at power forward and center Michael Olowokandi.

Miller, 26, is a Los Angeles native. He graduated from Verbum Dei High and became a standout at the University of Utah before the Cavaliers selected him eighth in the 1999 draft. In his first NBA season, Miller earned first-team all-rookie honors.

Like Brand, Corey Maggette and Lamar Odom, Miller is eligible for a contract extension this summer. It was not known whether the Clippers will give Miller that extension.

The Clippers also must re-sign Olowokandi, a restricted free agent coming off his finest NBA season. Olowokandi averaged career bests of 11.1 points and 8.9 rebounds in 2001-02.

The Clippers were not eager to deal Miles, 20, who seemed poised to move from an exciting substitute who thrilled crowds with highlight-reel dunks to a dependable starter next season.

"There has not been a trade completed yet," Jeffrey Wechsler, Miles' agent told the Associated Press on Monday. "If a trade involving Darius is completed, I'm sure he'll be very disappointed for the fans of the Los Angeles Clippers."

However, the Clippers had a wealth of talent up front, including recent draft picks Chris Wilcox and Melvin Ely, but no one to direct them from the point.

Point guard Jeff McInnis is an unrestricted free agent, and the Clippers do not wish to retain him. The team on July 18 signed point guard Marko Jaric, their second-round pick in the 2000 draft.

Apparently, it was Miller or bust.

Attempts to persuade the New Orleans Hornets to trade Baron Davis, a former UCLA star, failed in the days leading up to the draft.

The Clippers' starting five figures to be Miller and veteran Eric Piatkowski at the guards, Olowokandi at center and Brand and Odom at forwards. Top reserves are expected to be guards Maggette, Keyon Dooling and Quentin Richardson.

Jaric, a member of the Yugoslav national team who has played in Italy and Greece, is said to be among the best point guards in Europe. At the moment, Jaric appears ticketed to become an internationally experienced backup for Miller.

Miles recently said he hoped to perform well enough at training camp to force Coach Alvin Gentry to make him a starter.

Miles excelled as a reserve, averaging 9.4 points as a rookie and 9.5 last season. He and Richardson were renowned around the league for tapping their fists against their foreheads after making a big play or shot. Neither player would explain the significance of the gesture, although many fans copied it, particularly those who helped the Clippers average a franchise record of 18,053 at Staples Center.

Jamison appeared in only 25 games last season.

With McInnis at the point the last two seasons, the Clippers began a turnaround from a 15-win season in 1999-2000 to 31 victories in 2000-01 and 39 last season--the team's best mark in almost a decade. But the Clippers failed to advance to the playoffs for the fifth consecutive season in 2001-02.

Cleveland made no secret of its desire to start anew. The Cavaliers almost had a deal with the Clippers completed on the day of the NBA draft, June 26, but talks collapsed late that night on a proposed trade for Miller.

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(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)

*--* The Trade Statistics are from 2001-02 season: CLIPPERS WILL GET ANDRE MILLER Age 26 16.5 pts 6-2, 200 4.7 reb 10.9 ast BRYANT STITH Age 31 4.2 pts 6-5, 196 1.7 reb 0.8 ast CLEVELAND WILL GET DARIUS MILES Age 20 9.5 pts 6-9, 210 5.5 reb 1.26 blk HAROLD JAMISON Age 25 2.2 pts 6-9, 269 1.6 reb 0.2 ast

*--*

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