More than two weeks after the Jazz's Karl Malone signed his annual new contract, teammates Thurl Bailey and John Stockton are still waiting for their deals. "I haven't ducked anything," said Jazz president-general manager David Checketts of his dealings with the players' attorneys.
The issue is what the tearing up of Malone's contract and awarding him a 10-year, $18 million deal should mean to Bailey and Stockton. When he and Malone agreed to the contract Nov. 4, Checketts said, "It won't affect the negotiations (with Bailey and Stockton) one dollar."David Falk, Stockton's attorney, contends that the fact Malone had five years left on a six-year deal should take away any of the leverage the Jazz claim in reworking the last three years of Stockton's five-year contract. Bailey has four years left on the six-year deal he signed the same day as Stockton in the summer of 1986.
"I've let them know I don't want it to wear on," said Checketts, "(but) I can't say how far along we are on either one; I really don't know."
Would Checketts ever call off the talks, or postpone them until after the season?
"The only point at which I would say that is if I thought it was affecting us in a negative way," he said. "So far, it hasn't affected either of them."
Apparently not. Bailey is averaging 23.3 points through games, Stockton is averaging 15.3 points and 13.5 assists.
"It's not that hard to put out of your head, unless people ask about it. It shouldn't affect you if you're allowed to go about your business," said Stockton.
Bailey shuddered last Saturday night, when he was undercut and crashed hard to the floor. "You pray that nothing career-ending happens, or even close to that," he said. "Those things pass through your mind every time you step on the floor, but you just play."
* * * Trainer Don Sparks has decided to leave the cast on Bobby Hansen's left wrist until Friday, five weeks since the fracture occured. Sparks targets Hansen to play the following Friday against the Lakers in Inglewood.
Mike Brown did everything except scrimmage in Sunday's practice, and reported soreness in his thigh, where he still has calcium deposits. Sparks is having him work out every other day in hopes he'll be ready for an eastern swing that begins Dec. 14. Brown is on the active roster, although his last appearance was Oct. 21. Hansen is on the injured list.