New Lakers coach confident Malone won't leave

Updated: August 19, 2004, 12:08 AM ET
Associated Press

HOUSTON -- Rudy Tomjanovich, who leaves Houston to begin his new coaching job with the Los Angeles Lakers this weekend, said he's confident that Karl Malone will stay with the Lakers.

Karl Malone

Tomjanovich said he met with Malone recently and believes the power forward, who went down with a knee injury in December, won't leave.

"He wants to do it the right way. He is a man of principle," Tomjanovich, former coach of the Houston Rockets, told Houston television station KRIV on Wednesday. "He doesn't want to go out and not be 100 percent."

Malone, 40, has indicated if he doesn't recover fully from knee surgery he will retire. The league's second-leading scorer took a huge pay cut to join the Lakers as a free agent last year in search of his first NBA championship.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press