Starting center: Hakeem Olajuwon, Rockets.
Reserve: David Robinson, Spurs.
Again, no argument.
Phoenix forward Cedric Ceballos has played like an All-Star himself lately. With three of the Suns' key players—Barkley, Johnson (chicken pox) and Danny Ainge (sprained left ankle)—out with injuries and another, last season's rookie find, forward Richard Dumas, undergoing drug rehab, Ceballos has done more than his share to compensate. He has scored 40 points twice this season and averaged 27.5 points over his last six games through Sunday. "I've always known I could score if the opportunity presented itself," he says. "I'm just doing what needs to be done until we get all our firepower back."
The burst of scoring by Ceballos is all the more remarkable because he missed last year's Finals and the first 29 games of this season with a broken left foot. He wasn't activated until Jan. 9. "If we'd had Cedric for the Finals, we would have won the world championship," says Barkley. "Everyone is seeing that now."
The injuries have forced Phoenix coach Paul Westphal to use 13 different starting lineups, and the Suns have had to turn to the CBA for help, picking up guard Elliott Perry. Even with Ceballos's scoring, Phoenix, which was 30-14 and trailed the Pacific Division-leading Sonics by four games at week's end, needs good health more than anything.
Deals, Deals, Deals
Despite the rescinded trade between the Pistons and the Rockets that would have sent Sean Elliott, who failed his physical, to Houston for Robert Horry and Matt Bullard and two second-round draft picks, the next couple of weeks could be eventful because of the looming Feb. 24 trade deadline. But as usual there won't be nearly as many trades as there are rumors. Some of the talk involves teams that are considered championship contenders, but the theme this year seems to be dealing for high-profile free-agents-to-be, like Manning, Grant and Coleman, and not just adding one more horse for a championship run.
The Nets and Coleman, who can be a restricted free agent at season's end, discussed a nine-year, $90 million deal last week, but talks broke off. Now New Jersey is listening to offers for him. The most attractive proposal may be from the Heat, who are rumored to be proposing a package that includes center Rony Seikaly.