LOS ANGELES, JAN. 16 -- Call it Seattle Syndrome. The inexplicable malady that sees SuperSonics players tagged with attitude dysfunction and then, when they are traded or leave, somehow has them transform into team players.

Xavier McDaniel is the latest to transform, just as Tom Chambers before him and, to a certain extent, Dennis Johnson before him. Any day now, if Dale Ellis is traded, we'll hear that he never fell asleep at the wheel.

"They were comparing me to . . . Adrian Dantley," McDaniel said, "as far as hogging the basketball. I've always been a player that went out and did my job. I don't try to do anything I can't do.

"I think I learned that from {former Seattle coach} Bernie {Bickerstaff}. Do the things that make you good. I kept that concept that he told me as a rookie. In order to be a good player in this league, do the things that you do best and you will become successful in this league. And I shoot the turnaround jump shot and I take the drive when it's there."

The Suns have liked what they've seen. They see a 6-foot-8 guy who gives them yet another scorer to go with Kevin Johnson, Chambers and Jeff Hornacek. Pick your poison. Amazing what being on a 24-11 team will do for a player's reputation.

"I was reading Sports Illustrated today," McDaniel said. "It was saying when the basketball came to me, it stopped, and it took everybody else out of their game.

"How can I take anyone out of their game? Guys here don't stop. They won't. They cut to the basket. If I've got the basketball and I'm double-teamed, Kevin Johnson shoots {through} the lane and I give it to him. The other night, Dan Majerle cuts the lane, I give it to him. When you're a scorer it's tough to get the guys who are doing the stats to give you assists. That's just a bum rap you get." Who Makes the Call?

The Clippers announced last week that Ron Harper could play by the end of the month, that his knee was almost back to snuff. Trouble is, Harper's not sure about it yet, and he doesn't want to be backed into any corners.

"It's my knee," he said. "I'm the one who had surgery. If I don't feel it's ready to go, I'm not going to play. I'm not going to put any pressure on myself to say I have to be ready on such and such a date. The best thing for me is to keep practicing and see how I feel."

He was cleared to practice in December after missing almost a year with torn ligaments. Gradually he's increased his workload. And he got a telltale sign of how close he was.

"I got in contact with Ben {Benoit Benjamin} and Ken Bannister for a rebound," he said. "And I came down on that leg. And everybody looked surprised like, 'Is he going to be all right?' One time I fell on the leg and everybody was like, 'Is he all right?' That gave me a lot of confidence knowing that it's okay for me to get back up to run."

Harper said Bernard King has been an inspiration.

"He gave a lot of confidence to players like myself, seeing how strong he came back," Harper said. "When he had knee surgery they did it probably in a whole different way. So to see him come back lets guys know you can come back from knee surgery." . . .

Danny Schayes's Bucks teammates call him "Smooth," as in the camel in the Camel cigarette advertisements. . . . Word on the street is if you want to talk about Stacey King with the Bulls, they'll listen.

Speaking of trades, General Manager Elgin Baylor corrects reporters who think he'll deny the Clippers are interested in making deals because of the constant rumors about Danny Manning and Gary Grant.

"We never said that," Baylor said. "We'll make one if we're able to make a good deal -- if we can get an impact player, not just make a deal for the sake of making one. That doesn't make any sense.

"People call and they talk about other players too, not just the ones you mentioned. I call a lot of clubs and talk about a lot of their players. It works both ways." This and That

The Nets traded Lester Conner to the Bucks last night for Greg "Cadillac" Anderson. Anderson will back up Derrick Coleman at power forward while Conner gives Milwaukee a veteran backup to point guard Jay Humphries. . . .

The Spurs announced that David Wingate will not return this season, saying he must be cleared of wrongdoing in two rape cases before they consider re-signing him, according to the Baltimore Sun. The news came two days after a Howard County (Md.) Circuit Court judge postponed Wingate's second-degree rape trial until August. . . .

Great line of the week: After the Cavaliers' Henry James, late of the CBA, scored 21 points against the Pistons, Joe Dumars came up to him and asked, in all earnestness, "Who are you?" . . .

How bad is Pacers center Rik Smits going? Not only is he averaging five points and 1.5 rebounds fewer than last season, but last week vs. the Rockets he was outscored and outrebounded by Dave Feitl.