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TRIBUNE FILE PHOTO - Mike Barrett (left) and Mike Rice wont be back behind the mike as Trail Blazers broadcasters.After Wednesday’s somewhat stunning palace coup of the broadcasting team of the Trail Blazers, what next?

And why?

Let’s address the latter first. Television play-by-play man Mike Barrett and analysts Mike Rice (TV) and Antonio Harvey (radio) were fired in a sweeping move by the Blazers. Radio play-by-play voice Brian Wheeler is the sole survivor.

Chris McGowan, president and CEO who runs the business operations for the Blazers, was good enough to do a series of media interviews to explain the decision.

“Some things I can share with you, and some things I can’t,” McGowan told me, which was fair enough. “I get a lot of input from multiple people in our organization, but ultimately, it’s my decision. It’s something we’ve been looking at for the last year or so.”

The general reason, McGowan said, was a desire for “a new perspective and new voices” in the broadcasting team.

“It’s a good time to transition and look toward the future based on what’s going on with our broadcasts,” said McGowan, who is completing his fourth year with the club.

That seems odd, I observed, in that all three of the outgoing broadcasters had a year left on their contracts.

“They’re good people,” McGowan said. “As we’re making this transition, I want to give them an opportunity to land on their feet. I want them to have the ability to figure out where they’re going to go. I hope it’s a compassionate way to handle a tough decision.”

McGowan wouldn’t go into specifics as to why Barrett, Rice and Harvey are being relieved of their duties.

“Ultimately, I have to do what I think is right for building our organization for the future,” McGowan said. “When you make big changes like this to very important employees who have been a big part of your brand, not everybody is going to agree with it. Hopefully, when we announce who we’re bring in, people will get an understanding why we make the changes.”

McGowan said he doesn’t yet have replacements in line.

“But I’ve been analyzing potential candidates, having some conversations (with them),” he said. “I suspect I’ll be making some announcements in the near future.”

I asked McGowan if word of Harvey’s intention to apply for a recreational marijuana license impacted his future with the Blazers.

“That’s a private, personal thing,” McGowan said. “It had no effect on his job.”

Firings are “the worst” thing McGowan deals with in his job, he said.

“I feel really bad about having to make these difficult decisions,” he said. “I want to be supportive and help all of them land on their feet. They’re all super-talented. I’m hopeful they’ll end up doing great things with their next moves.”

I’m not sure there will be a “next move” for Rice, 77, who served 26 years as Blazer analyst on television and radio, the last 11 alongside Barrett on TV. Rice has become an institution in Portland, an eccentric, entertaining purveyor of malaprops and hilarity to which fans seem to identify.

I’d like to think the “Wild One” will call it a career, spend some deserved retirement time honing his golf and tennis games and perhaps become an ambassador of some sorts for the club.

Harvey, 45, might make so much money in the cannabis industry, he won’t need another job. Like Rice, he has a quick wit and engaging personality, and I’ll miss our opportunities to kibitz in the press room at Moda Center.

Barrett, 48, is a different story. There’s no spinning this one — he got hosed. No way did he deserve his fate. The lifelong Oregonian (Oregon native, Oregon State grad) is one of the best in the business. He is polished and professional, with an excellent sense of humor and timing. Nobody could have done a better job of playing off Rice and cleaning up his verbal miscues, all the while enjoying a camaraderie in the booth with his partner.

If the thinking was Barrett wasn’t “positive” enough, I beg to differ. Barrett lived and died with the Blazers, as did all of the team’s broadcasters. But he was often a voice of reason, refusing to sugarcoat things when they were breaking badly on the court for the home team.

I’d like to think that’s the way the majority of fans want it — an honest, even-keeled broadcast. Most fans know when they’re being snowed by a “homer” on the mike. Barrett strikes the right balance between a “positive” spin and an accurate portrayal of the true picture. If it cost him his job, that’s a sad commentary on the organization’s decision-makers.

Barrett has lived in Tualatin for 20 years. He started with the Blazers in 1999, serving as pregame and postgame radio host while doing play-by-play for the WNBA Portland Fire for three years. He recently completed his 14th season as the Blazers’ TV play-by-play voice. He bleeds Blazer red. Wednesday was a very difficult day.

“It’s been an incredible run calling the games for the team I grew up watching,” Barrett told me. “I try to never take anything for granted. I hope I never did. I’ve been honored to be able to do my job with the Blazers.

“Unfortunately, things come to an end, and this has. But I’m not bitter in the least. I’m more thankful than anything. Even when they told me what they were going to do, there was no resentment. I said ‘thank you.’ It has been a wonderful ride.”

Barrett and wife Shelly would like to remain in Portland. That seems unlikely. He’ll get an opportunity for another NBA job, and he’ll take it and do well elsewhere.

What next for the Blazers?

Wheeler will work solo on radio “for at least next season,” McGowan said.

As for the TV side, “I want people with talent and NBA experience,” McGowan said. “A Northwest connection would be ideal as part of the two-person team. Having some Blazers connection would be ideal. That’s going to be tough to find.”

I expect Kevin Calabro to be the club’s new play-by-play man. The long-time voice of the Seattle SuperSonics is an almost unparalleled talent who is working the NBA finals for ESPN Radio. Landing Calabro would be a coup of a different kind for the Blazers.

Mychal Thompson would be the perfect choice for Calabro’s partner. Thompson, who spent seven seasons in a Blazer uniform, lived in Portland for many years, working for the club while hosting a radio show. He also spent two years working alongside Calabro in Seattle. Thompson now serves as radio analyst for the Los Angeles Lakers and is co-host of a radio show in L.A.

Thompson’s wit and sense of humor are off the charts. His knowledge of both the NBA and the Blazers considerable. He would be interested in an opportunity to return to Portland under the right scenario. This is it.

Wednesday was a dark day for Portland’s NBA franchise. Soon, we’ll learn the rest of the story.

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Twitter: @kerryeggers

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