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Ceballos Is Missing, Suspended

Lakers: Leading scorer doesn't make flight to Seattle and hasn't been in contact with team.

March 22, 1996|From Associated Press

Cedric Ceballos, the Lakers' leading scorer, was suspended indefinitely by the team without pay Thursday, a day after he missed the team's charter flight to Seattle.

Despite several attempts to contact Ceballos, the Lakers said they hadn't had any communication with him as of late Thursday afternoon.

In the dressing room in Seattle Thursday night, no one knew of Ceballos' whereabouts. And those who talked about Ceballos' absence wouldn't speculate why he was missing.

"I was concerned and I still am about Cedric as a person," Coach Del Harris said. "We can worry later about Cedric the ball player."

Harris said he planned to start Magic Johnson in Ceballos' small forward spot against the SuperSonics. Johnson came off the bench in his first 18 games back from retirement.

Johnson said he talked to Ceballos several times about playing time, which may be the reason behind the disappearance.

"I told Cedric, 'I'm not here to take your spot. All I'm here is to help win games.' We had something nice going here with Magic coming off the bench."

Nick Van Exel and Elden Campbell, two Laker starters, said they didn't want to comment about the Ceballos situation.

"We don't know where he is," said Laker General Manager Mitch Kupchak, who was at the Seattle game. "After we talk to him, we'll decide whether or not his suspension will continue."

The Lakers went 17-5 in the first 22 games after Johnson's return Jan. 29.

"When you're playing well, you don't want any distractions," Kupchak said. "This is definitely a distraction."

"This is the worst possible time it could possibly be," Johnson said. "This is about continuing on. You want to play good basketball going into the playoffs."

Ceballos failed to accompany the team to Seattle in the wake of his least productive game of the season.

Averaging 22.4 points, 7.1 rebounds and 1.6 assists in 35.2 minutes a game, Ceballos played only 12 minutes in a 94-71 victory over Seattle on Tuesday night at the Forum. He had two points, three rebounds and no assists.

"Nobody has heard from him," Laker spokesman John Black said from his Seattle hotel room before the game. "He'll be suspended until we speak to him. Obviously, we can't determine anything until we speak with him. It's a team matter."

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