Another year, another exit without a championship ring. One day after the end of the NBA season, All-Star forward Karl Malone said it is time to reassess his position, time to consider his future.
"I'm not saying I want to leave Salt Lake," said the Mailman on Wednesday. "But I want more. Maybe I want too much. Maybe I want something I can't have."Malone wasn't talking about more money. His concern, he said, is with the Jazz again failing to win a title. "I want to win it. I'm just frustrated right now."
That the Mailman would be upset with the finish is not surprising. He had another All-Star season, finishing second in the league in scoring (29.0) and fourth in rebounding (11.8). However, the Jazz were beaten out in the Western Conference semifinals, 4-1.
This isn't the first time Malone has complained about the direction of the Jazz. Last November he complained publicly about some players on the roster after the Jazz had lost four games in a row.
"You get in a situation where you're at a standstill," he continued. "And you need to do something to change your routine. You need a change of scenery. After a frustrating loss you have to sit back and wait, evaluate the situation and see."
While the Mailman didn't specifically say he wants to be traded - or see anyone else traded - he didn't rule it out, either. "I love the organization; I love the community. It's a great place to raise a family. But sometimes drastic things have to happen. Look at (hockey star) Wayne Gretzky. He left (Edmonton), and it wasn't the end of the world. I'm not saying I'm a Gretzky, but I've been in the league six years and I'm at the point where I really have to look at the different situations. Maybe I have no options."
Realistically, Malone's options are few. He just completed the first year of an eight-year, $26 million contract. It is unlikely owner Larry H. Miller is interested in trading the game's top power forward.
"A lot of people don't really care about winning a championship. They just want to draw a check. But I want to win. My wish is to win the whole thing," Malone added.
Despite his contract, the Mailman said he sometimes feels unclear about his status. "You might have a situation where you don't know where you stand," he said. "People may say that's crazy, but sometimes that's how I feel.
"You can get in a situation where you might have me going to a competing team or somewhere else, whatever it takes. I'm not trying to start a big ruckus or anything. It's just how I feel."
Malone has a number of summer plans, including a fishing expedition with his wife of five months, basketball camps in Bountiful and Shreveport, La., and "concentrating on my business dealings and getting them growing." He said the release of the movie "Rockwell" - in which he appears - should be in June.
"I'm going to just sit back and just see what happens. This is the first summer I've really done that. I'm going to think a lot and get away from basketball. Before I do anything drastic, I'm going to think."
Asked to sum up his feelings, Malone continued: "Nobody knows their future roles, and I don't know my future. I used to think players were untouchable. But when they traded Gretzky - nobody on earth is untouchable anymore. I'm going to wait and see. I want to have a good feeling, whatever happens.
"I want more for this organization, more for these fans than we've given them."