Something was missing from most of the Jazz's preseason. The team owner, frequently seen attending practices, shooting around with players before games and going into the locker room at halftime, was keeping a curiously low profile. He even considered staying home from the games.

One night after practice, Coach Frank Layden wondered out loud, "Where is Larry Miller?"The long line at the Jazz renegotiation window, it seems, genuinely disturbed Miller. "There was a flurry of five or six guys on the team of, I'm going to say, complaining or (making) threats about contracts," Miller says of the pre-training camp days. "I was so upset over the way they were handling it - some more than others - that I was afraid of me making it confrontational and doing something stupid. I thought it was better for me to keep a safe distance so as not to even create an opportunity for something like that to hap-pen."

But Front-Row Larry, not coming to games?

"I was so bitter that I wasn't planning to go to the games for a while," he says. "But I figured if I was letting those guys affect me in that manner, then something's really out of whack."

So Miller attended the exhibition games in Salt Lake, Ogden and Provo. While he stayed in his seat at halftime, he did greet players in the locker room afterward. He's still digging in for what the Jazz insist will be the last week - one way or the other - of contract talks regarding John Stockton, Thurl Bailey, Karl Malone and the rest.

"The view I've decided to take is that they're doing what they think is best for them; I'm doing what I think is best for the team," says Miller.