Now that the Jazz have all that money - well, at least half - they were going to pay Kelly Tripucka, they'll give raises to Thurl Bailey and John Stockton.
But just not yet.The Jazz are offering Bailey and Stockton contract extensions, but will not do anything to the deals they signed on the same day in August 1986. Bailey, who made $549,000 last season, has four years left; Stockton made $278,000 and has three years left. Jazz president David Checketts' plan is to add three or more years to each contract in an attempt to make the complete package fair.
In other words, no Karl Malone-style renegotiations this summer - although Stockton is going to Europe. But unlike Malone's recruiting trip to Italy, Stockton's trip is to Great Britain for basketball clinics next week.
"Malone was an unusual case," says Checketts. "A number of (layers) could claim they're extremely valuable to us, but they're already signed to contracts in force. Those contracts, when done, were fair. We're going to leave those numbers in place so we protect the integrity of the contract. As for tearing up contracts, we're not in the business of doing that."
The Jazz's approach did not meet with overwhelming delight among the players, who could choose to become unrestricted free agents when their contracts expire. "I haven't made any decisions," said Bailey.
"I'm not at liberty to say what our plans are," noted Stockton's agent, Jim White. Stockton was a little more enthusiastic himself, saying, "My only reaction is I'm glad they did it. I hope we can sit down and work something out."
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ADD STOCKTON: Known to organize pickup games within hours of arriving home in Spokane after the season, Stockton took a week off this summer. But his vacation was actually a week of 16-hour days spent remodeling his house.
Stockton also finds himself fielding all kinds of requests for appearances. "You wouldn't believe it," reports his father and next-door neighbor, Jack. "He's been on the dead run ever since he's been home. It's just absolutely unbelievable. We try to answer every request, but it's just not in the cards."
Stockton is playing with his brother, Steve, and Cleveland guard Craig Ehlo on a summer-league team. After returning from Europe, he's staging three weeks of basketball camps and, meanwhile, he's receiving plenty of attention in town.
"I come home to be normal, and it hasn't been that way," Stockton said.
Stockton's reflection on the Jazz season? "It has just started bugging me. We came so far and we were so close. We have to keep improving - our whole team has to have that attitude."
--- BENCH DECISION: Fred Roberts is gone from Boston, so he'll miss out on new Coach Jimmy Rodgers' plans to use his reserves more. Rodgers even says he's willing to lose a few regular-season games, if that's the only way to keep his people fresh for the playoffs.
"You reach a point where you can't do it the same way," Rodgers told the Hartford Courant. "We're going to have to step back and do things differently. I see a real need to look at the minutes and build our bench more. I'm going to have to be patient, I know that, because we may lose some battles to win the war. But I believe in the big picture. I'm not going to concern myself so much with wins and losses as I will with trying to make us a better team."
Said Larry Bird of Boston's non-use of rookies, "I've been saying all along that (Brad) Lohaus could play."
--- AT RANDOM: Miami's search for a head coach is on hold until after Tuesday's draft, part-owner Billy Cunningham has informed Jazz assistant coach Jerry Sloan. "I'll talk to him," said Sloan, already sounding weary about the process. The Heat reportedly intends to talk not only to Detroit assistant Ron Rothstein, but to coach Chuck Daly, possibly about the two coming in a coach-general manager package . . . Karl Malone's offseason lasted only two weeks, before he started lifting weights again. But this could be a more relaxing summer for the Mailman - for the first time since leaving college, he won't, presumably, be asking for a new contract . . .
Of 161 players drafted in seven rounds last year, 46 appeared on a regular-season roster. Only 15 of those were second-round picks . . . The Jazz-Charlotte connection goes even deeper than the expansion draft. Two-time Jazz training camper Ray Hall was invited back following the Hornets' free-agent camp last month. But Charlotte's loading up on guards Thursday has to hurt Hall . . . Charlotte's Carl Scheer: "I didn't think it was possible to get both Dell Curry and (elly) Tripucka. We feel we got the top players in the draft and if we don't screw up in the college draft, we feel pretty good about the team we'll put together in the fall."
--- QUOTABLE: Tony Kornheiser, writing in the Washington Post: "After years of selling the country on the premise that only four teams - the Celtics, the Lakers, Philadelphia and Michael Jordan - played in the NBA, the league is rapidly reaching the point of public acceptance where a Utah-Cleveland final won't sink it. And perhaps just in time."