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LAKER UPDATE : Ceballos Is Better Than Advertised

October 24, 1994|SCOTT HOWARD-COOPER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Of course the Lakers thought Cedric Ceballos would be good. They wouldn't have sent a first-round pick to the Phoenix Suns, a division rival, if they didn't believe that.

But this good? No, probably not.

"I think he's a little bit better than even what we thought," Coach Del Harris said.

Ceballos has averaged 18.2 points and 6.2 rebounds in only 24.2 minutes while shooting 62.3% in six exhibition games, four of them Laker victories. That kind of production was expected because he is so good underneath, with the ball and going after offensive rebounds, but the surprise has been his work from the perimeter.

"His shooting is better than advertised," Harris said. "People saw him as a good runner and a good athlete who had a scoring knack, but he also has some of these other things that were not included on his bubble gum card."

Said Ceballos: "You always want to be relied upon. I watched a lot of that kind of thing in Phoenix. I remember (Tom) Chambers, (Xavier) McDaniel, Kevin Johnson, (Charles) Barkley. It's a different feeling for me to be that guy, but I'm going to take advantage of it."

*

Magic Johnson won't disappear altogether.

"I've got too much money at stake to be less visible," the Lakers' new minority owner and vice president said.

But he does plan to have a lower profile at games. Johnson, who bought about 5% interest from Jerry Buss during the summer, said he plans to find new seats this season, somewhere other than on the baseline a few feet from the Laker bench. That was home in 1993-94, at least before he went on the Laker bench.

"I want the team to get its own identity," said Johnson, who during the final days of his coaching tenure questioned the young Lakers for trying to distance themselves from his era. "I don't want Del or anybody to think I'm looking over their shoulders or anything.

"I think it's good for them to do their own thing. I don't want them to feel like I'm there for any other reason than to cheer for them."

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It is not known when James Worthy will rejoin the team following the death of his mother, Gladys.

Worthy missed Saturday's game against the Nuggets, before which a moment of silence was held, to return to his native North Carolina and is not expected to be with the Lakers when they fly to Vancouver today for a game Tuesday against the Seattle SuperSonics.

After playing in Canada, the Lakers conclude their exhibitions Thursday against the Utah Jazz at Ogden, Utah.

*

Of the dozen or so scouts at the Forum for the exhibition doubleheaders over the weekend, one had unparalleled access to the Lakers. Harris even put the guy up at his home in Pacific Palisades and drove him to games. Of course, it was his son, Larry Harris, a scout/video coordinator with the Milwaukee Bucks.

Said Del, making sure not to give away too much to the second opponent of the regular season: "I dropped him off at the Sports Arena."

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The Lakers should be better than last season, and also younger. With Kurt Rambis (retirement), James Edwards (free agent) and mid-season acquisition Danny Schayes (free agent) gone from 1993-94, that leaves Worthy, Sam Bowie and Sedale Threatt as the only players on the 15-man training camp roster older than 26.

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