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Is Malone mulling return to basketball?

Published: Tuesday, May 30 2006 12:00 a.m. MDT

One day he wants to be a policeman, the next a politician.

Remember Gov. Malone?

The Mailman has never actually run for office. But the one-time actor, ex-pro wrestler and occasional monster-truck driver does oversee a logging operation at his Arkansas ranch. And now NBA retiree Karl Malone is thinking, again, about another profession.

First step toward answering the latest calling came Monday, when the league's No. 2 all-time scorer spent the morning as a talent evaluator.

But fear not, Paula Abdul. Ol' No. 32 does not aspire to be an "American Idol" judge. At least not this week.

Rather, the current fancy filling the former power forward's mind is a return to the game that kept him employed in Utah for 18 years and made him a multimillionaire.

Scout? Coach? General manager?

Who knows?

"Am I looking one day to be more involved and more active in (basketball)? Absolutely," Malone said as he sat at the Jazz's practice facility after helping franchise brass assess four first-round prospects — Duke power forward Shelden Williams, and centers Hilton Armstrong of UConn, Mouhamed Saer Sene from Senegal and Patrick O'Bryant of Bradley — for the June 28 NBA Draft. "But it's just a step — kind of like starting off again, at the same place.

"I don't mind starting at the bottom, being on the sideline," he added. "When I came out of college (Louisiana Tech, in 1985), I did the same thing."

Malone said that since his 2004 retirement, after he capped a 19-year career with one season away from Utah playing for the Los Angeles Lakers, multiple NBA teams have contacted him about joining their organization in one capacity or another.

One — before Hurricane Katrina prompted their supposedly temporary relocation from his native Louisiana prior to the start of the 2005-06 season — was the New Orleans Hornets, who for at least another year will play most of their home games in Oklahoma City.

"We had really good dialogue last year, but I didn't want to just jump back into it," Malone said. "We had a great conversation with (Hornets owner) Mr. (George) Shinn, and we talked candidly about a lot of things."

This year, Malone said without being specific, "a couple teams other than the Jazz" have made overtures as well.

"I've had opportunities to learn," he said, "from people that say, 'Hey, when you're ready to do this, come here.'"

"Each time, Malone — who has publicly pondered a coaching or front-office career since long before he stopped playing, and had Jazz owner Larry H. Miller broach the subject again at his retirement announcement — felt he was not ready to take the plunge.

"I said, 'Well, let me get my feet wet first,'" he said.

When asked to watch Monday's audition, however, Malone decided to at least test the water — on his own dime, he let it be known.

"I've been talking to the Jazz, really, for the last couple months," he said. "They called, and (asked) would I be interested in coming up and seeing what I think. And I said, 'Why not?'

"This is the reason I came," Malone added. "I wasn't 'passing through.' ... I have ambitions of things that I would like to try. It's 'a step.'"

Where the road leads, though, is anyone's guess.

"I didn't know what I would feel once I got here," he said. "But I liked it a little bit. ... I like this, for no more reason than I like to see young kids that want to play."

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