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KERRY EGGERS ON SPORTS



TRIBUNE FILE PHOTO - BARRETTNotes, quotes and observations about our sporting world …

Was glad to see the Trail Blazers re-up with Comcast SportsNet Northwest for an additional five years.

The folks at CSNNW — vice president/general manager Larry Eldridge, senior executive producer Jeff Ingalls and their staff — do a professional job. It means on-air talent such as Dwight Jaynes, Jason Quick, Aaron Fentress, Dan Sheldon and Jordan Kent will remain on the scene. That’s a good thing.

Those who have DirecTV or Dish Network won’t consider the Blazers’ contract with CSNNW a good thing because they still won’t be able to get games. Chris McGowan, the Blazers’ CEO/president, said distribution would be a key component in negotiations. But in the end, CSN offered the most lucrative and attractive package.

An interesting part of the deal is that, beginning with the 2017-18 season, all 82 regular-season games will be shown on CSNNW. Next season will be the last to show Blazer games on KGW (8).

It’s the first time in franchise history there won’t be at least some games on over-the-air networks.

“Few, if any” NBA teams are still airing games on network affiliates, says Jeff Curtin, the Blazers’ director of broadcasting. It’s a dying breed.

Mike Barrett is still not sure what he’s going to do with his next foray into broadcasting. The long-time Blazers TV play-by-play man, who is being replaced by Kevin Calabro, is still being paid for another year, so he can afford to be choosy.

Barrett says he has been contacted by several friends in the business, including ESPN’s Mike Breen, who have reached out to offer help in landing another job.

“That’s been really cool, to have that kind of support from so many great people,” Barrett says.

It would make sense for Barrett to do some work for the Pac-12 Networks, though so far there has been no contact from network executives, he says. He is certainly better than some who were calling basketball on the network last season.

It may be that the Blazers will use rotating analysts to work with Calabro next season. P.J. Carlesimo has another year on his contract with ESPN so couldn’t do it full-time, but he might be able to handle a 15-game package or so. Another potential candidate: Former Oregon State point guard Lamar Hurd, who lives in Portland, works for the Pac-12 Networks.

• Chris Kaman’s future also is up in the air. The veteran center, who played sparingly for the Blazers in his 13th NBA year last season, is a free agent and isn’t sure about his future.

“I’m not there yet,” says Kaman, 34, from his summer home in Michigan. “I’m not in any rush. I’m waiting to see what happens with free agency. I’d like to play some more. It depends on the situation, though. I’m not going to close any doors until the time comes.”

It’s possible Kaman retires as a player and accepts a position as a workout coach with the Blazers. He was a good mentor to the team’s young bigs the past two seasons and is well-regarded by Portland coach Terry Stotts.

Meyers Leonard’s surgically repaired left shoulder is “coming along nicely,” the Blazers’ forward says.

Three months after surgery, “I’m able to do just about anything with it now.”

But Leonard will approach his return to basketball cautiously. He probably won’t do any contact work until training camp, focusing on strengthening the shoulder and maintaining conditioning.

“All it would take is one hard blow (to the shoulder) to mess things up,” says the restricted free agent.

When will Leonard’s contract be taken care of?

“That’s what I’d like to know,” the big fella says with a smile.

The Blazers no longer have room under the salary cap ($94.1 million) after signing free-agent center Festus Ezeli.

“We’re capped out,” president/general manager Neil Olshey says. “We gave (Ezeli) every dollar of our remaining cap room. We had to waive Cliff (Alexander) to get flexibility there … my spending days are over.”

Olshey is able to go over the cap to sign the Blazers’ restricted free agents. But would he go beyond the luxury tax threshold ($113.3 million)? That would be a departure in form for owner Paul Allen.

Olshey and Stotts have talked about playing a smaller lineup more next season, with Al-Farouq Aminu playing more at power forward than small forward.

“We are a much stronger team when Farouq plays 4,” Olshey contends. “Our ratings with Farouq at 4 make us project to a 53-, 54-win team (next season), whereas Farouq at 3 has us in the mid-40s.”

Hard to believe that any metrics would indicate Aminu’s presence at power forward mean eight or nine additional wins a season for the Blazers.

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Twitter: @kerryeggers

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