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Last February, Raymond Brown was working on his inside game in Rapid City, S.D., when he landed a new job. The pay: $643.27 a day. The job: butting heads with Karl Malone.

There are only a few jobs in the world that justify $643.27 a day, but this was one of them. The 6-foot-8, 225 pound Brown had been re-signed by the Utah Jazz, and put in charge of body-slamming Malone in practice."That would tend to wake you up in a hurry," says Scott Layden, the Jazz's director of player personnel.

"You know you've got work to do by looking at him," says Brown. "You just look at his body and say, Hey, I'm missing out."

Brown, who is back in Salt Lake for this week's Jazz rookie/free agent camp at Westminster College, is nothing if not a quick study. Since the season ended he has been spending three days a week in the weight room. The result is that he has gained 20 pounds of muscle, bringing him up to 245. Meanwhile, he has also improved his shooting, making it a strong possibility that he will be re-signed this year with the Jazz.

Brown's dedication has drawn praise from the coaches, who say his attitude has impressed them. What they suggested, Brown did. They said jump and he asked how high.

"Any time you ask a player to do something with his body, he'll say, 'Oh yeah, I'll do something with my body.' Then he'll go stand in the bathroom for four hours. But this guy (Brown) went out and put on 20 pounds. Some guys just can't do that. We have been impressed that he has done the extra work to make himself better," says Jazz Coach Jerry Sloan.

Brown was invited to last October's training camp by the Jazz, but waived prior to the season opener. He played in the CBA until February, when he was re-signed to fill the roster spot left by the departure of Joe Ortiz. He got in 16 of 31 games, scoring a high of six points against Seattle in March.

Then there were the practice battles with Malone. While Brown was at a 20-pound weight disadvantage, he did provide the Mailman with adequate opposition. "He did a good job on Karl," says Layden. "And he never backs down."

This year he should provide even more opposition. Brown's play in the Jazz camp has been notable. He is the heaviest player on the rookie/free agent roster, and carries an obvious confidence advantage over the rookies. "A year in the NBA makes a big difference," he says.

Even though Brown may weigh nearly as much as Malone now, he doesn't yet have the same sculpted look. And, as the Mailman can testify, looks count in the high fashion world of the NBA.

But he's getting there.

"I'm just trying to get as strong as I can. I'm lifting for strength right now. But a month from now it will be for physique."

By then, both Brown and the practice sessions with Malone ought to be something to see.

JAZZ CAMP NOTES: Utah finished up its Westminster portion of the camp Thursday morning. Friday, the Jazz play the U.S. Goodwill Games team and Saturday they meet the Portland Trailblazers rookie team . . . Southwestern U. guard Ray Baranco has been troubled with a sprained ankle and missed Wednesday workouts . . . Alabama forward David Benoit has left to play in the Lakers' camp . . . Second-year Jazzman Eric Johnson twisted his ankle Wednesday and left the practice, but isn't seriously hurt . . . Rookie draftee Walter Palmer remains absent and Layden says there are no new developments in the negotiations. "Walter needed to start working on weights four years ago, so he needs to start working as soon as possible. This is hurting Walter more than it's hurting the Jazz" . . . Meanwhile, there is no news on the fate of guard Delaney Rudd, who is considering playing in Italy. He expects something to happen by the weekend . . . Minnesota guard Melvin Newbern was released due to medical reasons, Wednesday night.