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Suns trade Horry to Lakers for Cedric Ceballos in four-player deal

January 11, 1997 GMT

INGLEWOOD, Calif. (AP) _ Robert Horry, recently suspended for throwing a towel in the face of Phoenix coach Danny Ainge, was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers in a four-player deal Friday that sent Cedric Ceballos back to the Suns.

Rumeal Robinson also went to Phoenix and Joe Kleine went to the Lakers. It was the second major trade in 16 days for the Suns, who acquired All-Star guard Jason Kidd from Dallas in a multi-player deal Dec. 26.

Horry arrived at the Forum in time to see his new team defeat the Miami Heat 94-85.

The Lakers lead the Pacific Division with a 27-10 record, while the Suns (11-24) are in last place.

``I went from the bottom to the top,″ Horry said. ``Now people are gunning for you, where in Phoenix they were kind of laughing at you.″

Horry was suspended for two games without pay by the Suns this week for the incident involving Ainge during a game last Sunday night.

``Even though it’s a situation where I’m very sorry I did it, it opened the eyes of people around the league (who realized) he’s not happy with this situation,″ Horry said.

The altercation occurred when Horry was pulled after missing a 3-point shot. He screamed obscenities at Ainge and threw the towel before being restrained by teammates.

``The incident had nothing to do with this. We would have made the trade regardless,″ Ainge said. ``Robert was struggling in our system. He just never fit in. Cedric is a good player who can give us some scoring.″

``We’re not trading Robert Horry because he was a problem here and we’re not trading for Cedric Ceballos because he’s been a problem in L.A.,″ he said. ``We had Cedric here for a while and he’s not a problem. I’m sure he’s very happy to be coming back.″

Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak said he isn’t worried about Horry’s recent behavior.

``What he did was wrong and he apologized,″ Kupchak said. ``Our best guess is he won’t do that here.″

Ceballos, activated earlier in the day from the injured list, sustained a torn patella tendon in his right knee during a game Nov. 13 at San Antonio. He had missed the Lakers’ last 28 games.

Ceballos, who began his NBA career in Phoenix, averaged 10.8 points and 6.6 rebounds in eight games as a starter this season.

``Cedric was disappointed,″ Lakers coach Del Harris said. ``He liked it here.″

Suns general manager Bryan Colangelo said he has been assured Ceballos’ knee is fully healed and will be ready to play.

Ceballos and Robinson were expected to take physicals in Phoenix on Saturday.

Horry and Kleine are expected to play their first game with the Lakers next Tuesday night against Vancouver.

``I thought it was a pretty good trade,″ said Lakers center Shaquille O’Neal, who played college basketball against Horry in the Southeastern Conference. ``Robert Horry is used to playing with a big man. Joe Kleine is a great backup center.″

Last season, Ceballos had a discipline problem with the Lakers. He left the team without permission when his playing time was cut after Magic Johnson returned to the Lakers.

Both Harris and Kupchak denied that Ceballos’ AWOL trip to Arizona last spring had anything to do with trading him.

``He’s really been a wonderful person to be around since that time,″ Kupchak said.

Ceballos, 27, was traded to the Lakers by the Suns on Sept. 23, 1994, for a first-round draft choice. He averaged 21.7 points in the 1994-95 season and 21.2 points in the 1995-96 season.

Before the trade, he played four years for the Suns. His best season with Phoenix was in 1993-94 when he averaged 19.1 points.

Horry, 26, was traded to the Suns by the Houston Rockets along with Sam Cassell, Chucky Brown and Mark Bryant for Charles Barkley and a second-round draft choice during the off-season. Horry played three years for Houston and helped the Rockets win two NBA championships.

Horry is averaging 6.9 points and 3.7 rebounds per game this season. He averaged 10.5 points and 5.3 rebounds in three seasons with the Rockets.

Kleine, 35, is averaging 3.4 points and 3.5 rebounds. He is an 11-year NBA veteran who previously played with the Boston Celtics and Sacramento Kings.

Robinson, 30, was signed by the Lakers as a free agent before this season. He averaged 3.0 points, mostly as a reserve, in 22 games.

``Cedric has been productive for us and will be in Phoenix,″ Kupchak said. ``We’ve changed our team tremendously in the last six months. We feel Robert Horry is a better fit. Robert is a year younger than Cedric and we feel he’ll make this team better.″

Last month, the Suns sent Sam Cassell, A.C. Green, Michael Finley and a second-round future draft choice to Dallas for Kidd, Tony Dumas and Loren Meyer.

``This is just another move in the overall steps that we’re taking to right the ship,″ Colangelo said.