by: DAVID PLECHL, The Blazers needed a “big” and here he is: Raef LaFrentz says at a Wednesday news conference that he’s ready to apply eight seasons of lessons to his fourth NBA team.

Geoff Petrie has his number -45 -so new Trail Blazer forward-center Raef LaFrentz will wear No. 9 here instead.

Four plus five equals nine, notes LaFrentz, who has worn No. 45 in the NBA but can't do it in Portland because the Blazers have retired it in honor of Petrie. LaFrentz can play either the 4 or the 5 position, which also adds up to nine, he points out.

This will be the 6-11 LaFrentz's ninth NBA season and fourth team. He's gone from Denver to Dallas to Boston to Portland, the latter move via a draft-day trade on June 28 -made by the Celtics' Danny Ainge, one of four players to wear No. 9 as a Blazer (Lionel Hollins, Rick Brunson and Ruben Nembhard were the others).

'I've seen a lot of different situations. I can hopefully draw from those,' says LaFrentz, who held a news conference Wednesday in Clackamas. Portland has always been one of his favorite NBA cities. 'I'm originally from Iowa, so I'm a country kid,' he says.

'We needed a 'big' that could open up the paint for Zach Randolph and defend the basket,' coach Nate McMillan says. 'Raef shoots the ball like a guard. We're gonna need that. … And he can play with Zach, Joel (Przybilla) or LaMarcus (Aldridge).'

• The U.S women's national soccer team, which includes University of Portland player Megan Rapinoe, will take on Canada and former UP star Christine Sinclair on Sunday at Cary, N.C. The game will air on ESPN2 at 10 a.m.

• Outside of the Champ Car race, the biggest racing event in the Portland area could be the Washougal Motocross, which takes place this weekend at Washougal (Wash.) Motorcross Park. It'll be the 16th American Motorcyclist Association national held at Washougal.

Amateur racing takes place today; the pros practice and qualify from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, and the main event is 1 p.m. Sunday.

The famed Ricky Carmichael and rival James Stewart surely will put on a show. Carmichael has six consecutive 250cc wins, giving him 141 combined in supercross and motocross - he has won 33 of the past 34 motocross races. Carmichael has won overall titles in six of his past nine appearances at Washougal. He has won all nine AMA championships he has contested. Carmichael also has announced he will be leaving motocross full time, and he could try NASCAR.

Stewart, 20, already has won three AMA Motocross Lites titles, and he now challenges Carmichael in 250cc.

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