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Payton to join Lakers; Malone may follow

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. (AP) - Gary Payton is set to join the Los Angeles Lakers, and Karl Malone may not be far behind.

The Lakers have been negotiating with Payton over the past several days, general manager Mitch Kupchak said Tuesday.

''It is the Lakers' intention to enter into a contract with Gary Payton once the moratorium period ends. Due to NBA rules regarding free agency I am unable to further comment at this time,'' Kupchak said in a statement.

With nine-time All-Star Payton teaming up with Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant, the Lakers would be favored next season to win their fourth NBA title in five years.