Spurs F Sean Elliott said yesterday he has been cleared to play, five months after receiving a kidney transplant, but team officials are skeptical as to how quickly he can return.

"He said he was cleared to play and I said, 'No, you're not,' not until I see things in writing--then he's cleared," Spurs Coach Gregg Popovich said.

"The decision is up to Sean Elliott, not me. The doctors can clear him, but the ultimate decision is Sean Elliott's. With me, it comes down to whether he can help the team, not if the doctors can clear him."

Elliott underwent a kidney transplant on Aug. 16, receiving the organ from his brother, Noel Elliott.

* NO DEAL: Bill and Nancy Laurie, a billionaire couple who purchased the NHL's St. Louis Blues last fall, ended their efforts to buy the Grizzlies and move the team to St. Louis.

* NO DEAL YET: The Heat and the Sixers are no closer to pulling off a proposed trade that would send F Jamal Mashburn to Philadelphia in a five-player deal. Miami Coach Pat Riley reacted angrily to leaks of the deal, which would send G Larry Hughes, F Billy Owens and two other players to the Heat.

"I have a very hard time with other management that leaks information," Riley said. "That really bothers me, because you can't trust anybody."

* DOCTORS OF DUNK RETURN: Raptors F Vince Carter will be among those trying to win the title of the NBA's best dunker in an all-star competition that last was held in 1997.

Carter will be joined by teammate Tracy McGrady and Rockets rookie Steve Francis in the slam-dunk competition, which is scheduled for the day before the Feb. 13 All-Star Game.