After surgery, will Durant stay and play with Warriors?
Knocking it around on a few sporting subjects, both locally and nationally ...
• There has been much consternation over the merits of Kevin Durant stepping onto the floor for Game 5 of the NBA Finals after sitting out more than a month with a calf injury. Golden State's star forward then suffered a torn Achilles tendon to the same leg, necessitating surgery and leaving his participation next season in jeopardy.
Some critics believe the Warriors should never have sent Durant into combat, that they put him at risk to further injury and also jeopardized his future in the sport. I disagree.
First of all, I believe general manager Bob Myers, coach Steve Kerr and Golden State's medical staff never would have approved Durant's participation if they felt playing on the not-fully-healed calf would lead to further — and more serious — injury to the leg. A calf injury is much different than an Achilles injury. It's terrible that it happened, but there is simply no evidence that the two injuries are connected.
Durant's agent and medical people signed off on his participation, as well.
I'm not sure if Durant will exercise his option to stay with the Warriors now — and make $31.5 million for a 2019-20 season in which he'll probably not see the court. If he does, more power to him. If not, suitors such as the New York Knicks, Brooklyn Nets and Los Angeles Clippers will be more than willing to offer him a major deal. The offer may now be for fewer years, but Durant will still make a boatload of money.
I applaud him for trying to help the Warriors win a title, and I'm betting he'll return and eventually regain his spot as one of the best basketball players on the planet.
• Good for Trail Blazers assistant coach David Vanterpool for landing a job as associate head coach on Ryan Saunders' staff with the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Vanterpool, 46, had served on Terry Stotts' staff in Portland for seven seasons. Vanterpool became Stotts' No. 1 assistant when Jay Triano left to become the Phoenix Suns' head coach in 2016.
Vanterpool wants to be a head coach in the NBA and has interviewed for several open jobs in recent years. He'll be in charge of the Timberwolves' defense and will expand his horizons in a different system, which will give him an opportunity to grow as a coach and enhance his chances to realize his head-coaching aspirations.
• Another Blazers assistant, Jonathan Yim, is progressing nicely in his recovery from a serious auto accident on April 24.
Yim suffered extensive injuries, including a broken femur, a broken hand and fractures to a pair of vertebrae.
Yim, who served as a video coordinator and player development coach for the Blazers last season, is out of a wheelchair and walking with a cane. He got the cast off his hand and will have it in a splint for a couple of weeks. He is undergoing physical therapy three times a week and general therapy two days a week. As the hand heals, he'll be cleared to begin workouts in the pool. He'll get an X-ray on the leg in July.
Yim, who has competed in one Ironman Triathlon and in two half-Ironman triathlons in the past, has a personal goal in mind.
"Depending on the X-ray, I could be cleared to start jogging a little," he says. "After that, I'll be able to run and swim and bike. I see a half-Ironman in my future in September."
If that seems optimistic, well, you don't know Jon Yim. I'm not selling him short on anything.
• New Oregon State baseball coach Mitch Canham, the former OSU catcher who was managing of the Double-A Arkansas Travelers in the Seattle Mariners' organization, tells a neat story about pitcher Andrew Moore, also an ex-Beaver.
On June 2, Moore celebrated his 25th birthday with the Travelers. Before the game, Canham got word that Moore was being called up by the Mariners. Afterward, the coaches and players sang happy birthday to Moore in the locker room.
Says Canham: "When we got to, 'Happy birthday, dear Andrew,' we added, 'and good luck with the Mariners.' His eyes lit up like a little kid at Christmas."
Moore started two nights later in Seattle, allowing six hits and four earned runs in an 11-5 loss to Houston. He is now back with the Travelers, who have clinched the Texas League North Division first-half title.
Moore grew up in Eugene a fan of Canham as he helped Oregon State to a back-to-back College World Series titles in 2006 and '07.
"He told me he has an autographed photo of mine from my time at Oregon State," says Canham, 34. "And I told him, 'I'm going to need a signed photo of you for my office now.' He's just one of heck of a person as well as a pitcher."
• Canham and his wife, Marlis, were watching an early Beaver scrimmage at Goss Stadium in February when Mitch had to take a conference call with the Mariners.
With his phone on mute, Mitch nodded to his wife as Adley Rutschman came to the plate.
"This kid is special — don't blink," Mitch told his wife. "The next pitch he hits it over the scoreboard in right. I said, 'I told you so.'
"Adley seems like an amazing human being. You can tell just by how he walks, how he talks, how he looks into your eyes when he's asking a question. He genuinely cares for others. The (Baltimore) Orioles made the right choice taking him No. 1 overall (in the draft). He has a long, prosperous career ahead of him on the field but what he's going to do for people away from the field is even more remarkable. What an amazing thing it would have been to be a brother on the field with him."
Canham started a terrific run of all-conference catchers that has included Ryan Ortiz, Andrew Susac, Jake Rodriguez, Logan Ice and Rutschman.
"Great catcher after great catcher has come through here, and I hope to continue that tradition," Canham says.
• Mike Riley is moving on to his next coaching challenge — as offensive coordinator for the Seattle franchise of the new XFL, a spring league that will begin play next February.
Riley will join fellow southpaw Jim Zorn, who will be head coach of the XFL team in his old stomping grounds. Zorn played nine seasons with the NFL Seahawks (1976-84) and served as quarterbacks coach for seven seasons (2001-07).
Riley, who turns 66 on July 6, had no relationship with Zorn when the latter called about a month and a half ago to gauge Riley's interest in working with him.
"It was out of the blue," says Riley, the former Oregon State head coach who worked last season as a consultant for current OSU coach Jonathan Smith. "Not sure if I'd ever met him. But the timing was perfect."
In April, the American Alliance of Football spring pro league folded after eight games. Riley was head coach of the San Antonio Commanders, who led the AAF Western Division with a 5-3 record when play ended. Fifteen players from Riley's San Antonio club have since signed contracts with NFL teams.
"From what I saw in the AAF, there is room for a spring league," Riley says. "The talent was good. it provides a lot of opportunity for the players and the coaches."
The XFL will go in 2020 with an eight-team league, with franchises in Seattle, Dallas, Houston and Los Angeles in the Western Division and New York, St. Louis, Tampa Bay and Washington in the East. Riley was also contacted about the O-coordinator job with the New York team and was considered as candidate to be head coach in Houston, a position that went to Grant High grad June Jones. The proximity of Seattle to his permanent home in Corvallis makes it a "perfect situation" for Riley and his wife, Dee.
"It's a four-month season, and it's close to home," says Riley, who will hold on to his vacation house near San Antonio. "We get to spend most of our time now in the Northwest. And I'm very excited to be able to work with Jim."
In 45 years of coaching, Riley will now have worked at the small college and major college levels along with stints in the NFL, Canadian Football League, World League, AAF and the XFL.
"That has to be close to some kind of record," Riley says with a laugh.
Riley is not sure if he'll be back as a consultant with OSU next season.
"Jonathan and I talked about a month ago, but now this has come up, so we haven't finalized anything," Riley says. "I really enjoyed the staff and my time working with them last year. But if I come back, I have to be fair to Oregon State and find out what the parameters of (the XFL gig) will be."
• Oregon State is completing arrangements to make radio play-by-play man Mike Parker an employee of the university, with a raise in salary along with health insurance and retirement benefits.
It's a well-deserved improved situation for one of the best in the business, who has been the voice of the Beavers since 1999 but has drawn salary from several sources as an independent contractor, including Oregon State, Learfield/IMG and Bicoastal Media, the latter the ownership group of KEJO radio in Corvallis.
• The 48th annual Ossey Scramble is set for Monday at Tualatin Country Club. The yearly fundraiser for the Oregon State men's golf program was established in 1972 by Beaver benefactor Bud Ossey, who turns 100 in November and continues to be a driving force behind the event.
Those who want to participate can call Ossey at 503 720-5151.