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Harpring not harping on starting, subbing

NEW YORK — With just one preseason game to go before the regular season begins, Matt Harpring still isn't sure if he is a starter or sub.

That's because Jazz coach Jerry Sloan isn't certain himself.

Sloan still hasn't decided on a regular rotation, or even a starting lineup, and won't until sometime after Utah's exhibition game at New York tonight and before its Wednesday-night opener against the Los Angeles Lakers.

Either way, Harpring — who has started 100 of his 109 regular-season games with the Jazz — is prepared.

"Whatever it is," he said, "is whatever it is."

In the Jazz's last game, at Philadelphia on Tuesday, Harpring came off the bench behind All-Star Andrei Kirilenko at small forward.

Whether that's the case against the Lakers remains to be seen, but this much seems certain: Harpring feels he still has a ways to go before he feels as comfortable as he was before sustaining last year's season-ending knee injury.

"I've been out a little while," Harpring said, "so I'm getting used to playing again, and doing things on defense, offense — little things that I've got to get used to doing again, than when you're off a little while, it's rough.

"It's gonna take some time."

KIRILENKO QUIET: There still is no agreement on a Kirilenko contract extension.

Sunday is the deadline for getting a deal done before next summer, though it's possible there will be some sort of agreement by the end of the week.

The Jazz apparently have been offering to pay in the mid-$70 million range for a six-year extension, and may be willing to come up some from that if the Kirilenko camp will come off its demand for a max $86 million deal.

Talks are ongoing, and the two sides might meet today.

DECISIONS, DECISIONS: Sunday also is the deadline for the Jazz to decide if they will pick up the 2005-06 option season on the rookie contracts of big man Curtis Borchardt and backup point guard Raul Lopez.

Both are tough calls for the Jazz, and Lopez's uncertain health situation seems to be complicating the decision. Neither Lopez (weak right-leg muscles) nor Jazz big man Jarron Collins (sprained wrist) is expected to play tonight.

Borchardt has helped his cause in Utah's last two exhibitions, pulling down 16 rebounds in a combined 48 minutes against Philadelphia and Detroit.

LONG SHOT JAZZ: At least one online sports book has released odds on winning this season's NBA title, and it has the Jazz at 60-to-1 — the same as Philadelphia, New York, Orlando, Milwaukee and Phoenix, but not nearly as low as Toronto (70-to-1), Seattle (75-to-1), Boston (80-to-1), Golden State (100-to-1), Chicago (100-to-1), the Los Angeles Clippers (150-to-1), Washington (200-to-1), Atlanta (300-to-1) or expansion Charlotte (500-to-1).

San Antonio is the favorite at 4-to-1, followed by Detroit (13-to-2), Minnesota (9-to-1) and Sacramento, Houston and Dallas (all 10-to-1). And what of Shaquille O'Neal's new Miami Heat? They check in at 12-to-1, much better than his old Los Angeles Lakers at 25-to-1.

ESCAPING NEW YORK: Just how bad does ex-Jazz swingman Shandon Anderson want to flee the Knicks?

"To get away from this situation, that's what I want," Anderson said in Wednesday's New York Post. "Make a move. They're telling me whatever what I do, I'm not going to play."

Preliminary contract buyout negotiations reportedly are under way so Anderson can exit New York, where he has been at odds with Knicks general manager Isiah Thomas since shortly after Thomas succeeded ex-Knicks and ex-Jazz boss Scott Layden.

Anderson has played in only three of New York's seven preseason games to date.


E-mail: tbuckley@desnews.com