Utah Jazz star Karl Malone is apparently on the verge of signing a new contract that team officials say will keep him with the club for eight more years.

Jazz President Frank Layden was quoted in a wire service story Saturday as saying Malone would have a new contract signed this week. The comments came at a ceremony at Louisiana Tech, in which Malone was having his number retired.Although Malone already had eight years remaining on his 10-year, $18 million contract, escalating salaries almost guaranteed that he would get a raise. One report said Malone would make $16 million over eight years. But Jazz General Manager Tim Howells said those figures are wrong.

Although he wouldn't comment on terms of the new contract - except to confirm that it is an eight-year deal - Howells said the terms are "fair on both sides."

Malone was already scheduled to make about $1.6 million this year - and would have averaged $1.8 million on his old contract - so he is expected to be well above $2 million per year mark.

Malone was recently listed as eighth in the NBA among power forwards, behind the likes of L.A.'s Sam Perkins ($3.16 million), Indiana's LaSalle Thompson ($2 million) and Phoenix's Tom Chambers ($1.975 million). Laker forward James Worthy, who was listed as a small forward, makes $1.6 million, but is reportedly renegotiating his contract.

Howells said during the summer that he had no plans to renegotiate any contracts. But, he said Malone recently read a story that indicated he wasn't among the top 100 wage-earners in sports.

"Karl read that and responded with letter to (team owner) Larry Miller that said, `Is this really true?' Larry has right and ability to change policy," said Howells.

Howells said the negotiations were between Miller and Malone, and took place only recently.

Malone was in Louisiana Saturday and unavailable for coment.

A press conference was originally planned for this week to make the announcement, but Howells said he wasn't sure if one will be held now that the news is out.

The next step could well be a raise for Jazz guard John Stockton, who has an eight-year, $10 million contract. Stockton was listed in Sport magazine as one of the great bargains in sports, having made $1,000,000 last season.

Utah opens its preseason camp Oct. 5 at Westminster College.