Coach Gene Shue, still not satisfied with the play of shooting guards Billy Ray Bates and Don Collins, said today that Kevin Grevey may be activated sooner than originally planned.

"I understand Kevin will be ready when we get back from this trip," said Shue. "I'm not sure if he'll be ready by Saturday, but we'll see. We can certainly use him."

When Grevey is activated, he will replace either Collins or Bates. The Bullets have tried unsuccessfully to trade both, and if a trade can't be made soon, one of them will be waived.

Grevey, on the injured list all season with an abdominal-muscle injury incurred last year, began working out 10 days ago and has progressed faster than expected.

Shue said he will most likely stay with Bates as his starter Wednesday night when the Bullets play the Phoenix Suns (WTOP-1500-AM at 9:35).

Collins began the season as the starter, but lasted only three games before being replaced by rookie Bryan Warrick, who lasted six games before being benched in favor of Bates.

Bates has been struggling on this four-game road trip that began with a 30-point loss to the Lakers Friday for the Bullets' fifth straight defeat. Washington broke the skid with a 95-87 victory in San Diego Saturday. Bates was three for 13 against the Lakers and three for 11 against the Clippers.

Collins scored 14 points in both games and shot well, but Shue hasn't been pleased with the other parts of his game. Warrick has played only eight minutes since being benched.

"He might get another chance, soon, though," said Shue, "because I don't like the combinations we've had to go with."

He said the game plan for the Suns will be the same as for every opponent. "We obviously can't score very many points, so we're going to have to make it a low-scoring game," he said.

The Bullets are coming off their best rebounding game of the season. Jeff Ruland, the only Bullet to score in double figures every game, had 17 rebounds, equaling his season high, and Rick Mahorn had a season-high 14 as the Bullets got a total of 51 rebounds.

The Suns are a different team from last year and the change has been for the better. They traded disgruntled Truck Robinson to New York for Maurice Lucas and replaced Jeff Cook with Larry Nance at the other forward spot. The result is a big, mobile, interchangeable front line consisting of 6-foot-10 Nance, 6-9 Lucas and 6-8 Alvan Adams.

Lucas is the team's leading scorer (17.8) and rebounder (9.6). Nance is averaging 12.8 points and 7.8 rebounds and Adams 15.7 points and 7.5 rebounds.

The back court is solid, with Dennis Johnson and Walter Davis starting and Kyle Macy behind them. Phoenix (10-3) has the fourth-best record in the league and is the NBA's best defensive team.