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Malone says he'll decide this week

LOS ANGELES -- If Karl Malone decides to play again, it
probably will be for the San Antonio Spurs, according to Malone and his agent.

Malone will make an announcement about his future before the
All-Star break. The All-Star Game is Feb. 20 in Denver.

"If he would choose to play, the likeliest candidate would be
the Spurs, which is a team he almost played for a year and a half
ago," Dwight Manley said Monday. "He's already basically retired because
he's not playing. That would be a big step for him, to essentially
come out of quasi-retirement and play.

"There are two possibilities. He's leaned toward staying where
he already is. Where he goes forward, only he knows. He'll say that
real soon. I'm not in the job of speculating. It's out of my hands.
It's going to be what it's going to be."

Manley said that Malone, who underwent knee surgery last summer,
is healthy and works out every day, but has not been playing
basketball.

The forward stopped in San Antonio to meet with Tim Duncan and coach Gregg Popovich, The San Antonio Express-News reported in Sunday's editions.

"Me and my wife [Kay] will meet [Sunday] and have a decision by the end of the week," Malone told The Riverside Press-Enterprise. "It was a good meeting with Tim and Gregg and it's exactly what I thought it would be. There was no fakeness. I got straight-up answers."

Malone was en route to his home in California from his Arkansas Ranch.

The 41-year-old Malone is the second-leading scorer in NBA
history, 1,459 points behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Malone played 18
seasons for Utah before joining the Lakers for the 2003-2004 season
at a greatly reduced salary, saying he wanted to win a championship
before retirement.

He missed 39 games last season after injuring his right knee,
and was hurt again during the playoffs, missing the last three
games of the NBA Finals, all of which the Lakers lost to the
Detroit Pistons.

Malone opted out of his $1.65 million contract following last
season, making him a free agent. He and his family live in nearby
Newport Beach.

"He's got to decide if he wants to play, if the juice is
there," Popovich said before the Spurs beat the Los Angeles Lakers
103-91 on Feb. 3.

"He's somebody we've been interested in for a couple of years.
He's a leader -- he's got the whole package. I thought he did a
great job in the playoffs last year."

Malone was a key factor in the Lakers' victories over the Spurs
in the Western Conference semifinals and the Minnesota Timberwolves
in the conference finals.

Manley said in October that his client wasn't ready to play, but
if he returned, it would only be with the Lakers.

That changed late last year after Malone was accused by Kobe
Bryant of making a pass at his wife. Malone, through Manley, denied
the accusation and apologized to Bryant and his wife for any
remarks she might have considered inappropriate.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.