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Barkley, NBA officials to talk

Charles Barkley arrived in the New York area late Thursday night for a meeting with NBA officials that he indicated would go a long way in determining whether he will continue playing.

"They want to sit me down and talk to me," Barkley said as he picked up his luggage after a flight from Phoenix.

He said he won't make a decision on retirement until he meets with league officials this morning, but indicated the league's response to his arrest last weekend in Orlando will be a strong factor.

"If I can't get support from my league, maybe it's time to go," Barkley said.

Barkley was charged with aggravated battery and resisting arrest after the early Sunday incident. Police said Barkley threw a bar patron, Jorge Lugo, through a window in Orlando, where the Rockets were to play the Magic in a preseason game. Barkley said Lugo threw a glass of ice on him and three people with him.

Barkley indicated clearly that he'd rather continue playing but said that would depend on whether the NBA tries to discipline him and if he thinks he'll need constant security to protect him from such incidents in the future.

"I just want to play basketball and be left alone," he said.

But he added that he'd respond in much the same way if someone else assailed him.

"If someone throws a drink on me, I'm probably gonna whup 'em," he said.

"I'm not going to change my mind. They said if someone throws a drink on me I should walk away, that's not going to happen.

"I've been called every name in the book. A complete stranger throws a drink on me and my friends and I'm the bad guy."

If Barkley does return, he won't be playing in the Summit. Compaq Computer Co. will pay $5.4-million over six years for the right to call the arena the Compaq Center.

NBA players named to U.S. team

Olympians Grant Hill, Gary Payton and Christian Laettner topped a list of 10 NBA players selected to play in the 1998 world championship tournament.

Hill of the Detroit Pistons and Payton of the Seattle Sonics were members of the 1996 U.S. Olympic team. Laettner of the Atlanta Hawks was a member of the ground-breaking 1992 U.S. Olympic team that included NBA players for the first time.

They will team with Vin Baker (Seattle), Terrell Brandon (Milwaukee), Kevin Garnett (Minnesota), Tom Gugliotta (Minnesota), Allan Houston (New York), Glen Rice (Charlotte) and Chris Webber (Washington). Houston's Rudy Tomjanovich will be the coach.

Utah's Malone injures finger

SALT LAKE CITY _ Jazz forward Karl Malone injured the middle finger on his right hand during practice.

The Jazz medical staff will make a game-time decision on whether the 1996-97 MVP will play in Utah's season opener against the Lakers tonight, spokesman Mark Kelly said.

Malone sat out Utah's final preseason game Monday with a sore left shoulder. He has played in 467 consecutive games, the fourth-longest active streak in the NBA, and hasn't missed a start since 1991.

BLAZERS: F Gary Trent (shin), F/C Alton Lister (shoulder) and F Dontonio Wingfield (knee) were placed on the injured list.

CAVALIERS: F Donny Marshall was waived and Gs Tony Dumas (knee) and Greg Graham (groin) were placed on the injured list.

HAWKS: F Ken Norman was waived, and G Eldridge Recasner (viral infection) was placed on the injured list.

HEAT: F Ben Davis was waived; C Alonzo Mourning (knee) and Gs Charles Smith (leg) and Malcolm Huckaby (ankle) were placed on the injured list.

KINGS: F Lionel Simmons, who struggled to recover from two knee surgeries, retired. First-round draft pick F Olivier Saint-Jean (right calf), F/G Kevin Gamble (back), and C Kevin Salvadori (ankle) were placed on injured reserve.

NETS: F Jack Haley (right calf), F Don MacLean (knee) and G Steve Henson (broken finger) were placed on the injured list.

PISTONS: F Charles O'Bannon (back) and G Rumeal Robinson (knee) were placed on the injured list.

SIXERS: G Anthony Parker (knee), G/F Marko Milic (back) and F Kebu Stewart (knees) were placed on the injured list. The moves, coupled with the league-imposed one-game suspension of Allen Iverson, leave the team with 11 active players.

SONICS: Seattle waived G/F Craig Ehlo and played G James Cotton (knee), F Stephen Howard (foot) and G/F Nate McMillan (knee) on the injured list.

SUNS: Rookie G Stephen Jackson was waived; Fs Tom Chambers (back) and Loren Meyer (back) were placed on the injured list.

TIMBERWOLVES: Minnesota cut Australian three-point specialist Shane Heal and reserve C Matt Fish, who was brought in last week because of injuries. C Paul Grant (foot), G Micheal Williams (hamstring) and reserve F Bill Curley (thigh).

TICKET PRICES: The average price of an NBA ticket rose 7.6 percent to $36.32 this season. Portland has the highest average at $51.89, Denver the lowest at $23.69, according to the Team Marketing Report, a Chicago-based newsletter.

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