Sobering news for those Tribune readers who count themselves as fans of the Trail Blazers: As of the weekend, nobody representing the franchise had contacted Sacramento co-owners Gavin and Joe Maloof for permission to discuss the vacant president and/or general manager positions with Geoff Petrie.

Petrie, the Kings' president of basketball operations, should be the Blazers' No. 1 candidate, period. His contract obligates him to Sacramento for at least two more seasons, and the Maloofs would want compensation for allowing him to leave, but Petrie can be obtained at the right price.

The Blazers should get their new GM in place as soon as possible, so he can help with the NBA draft June 26. Instead, their 'Star Search' approach proceeds at what appears to be a snail's pace. That's OK if it yields the right person for the job. Why do I have a growing suspicion that it's not going to be the case?

• It could be that the economy has clouded owner Paul Allen's thought process. Last week, his investment and real estate company, Vulcan Inc., laid off about 100 employees Ñ 20 percent of its staff of about 500. Perhaps Allen intends to wait on his hire of a Blazer president and GM until late summer to save a little on salary, a la Donald Sterling, the Scrooge McDuck-like owner of the L.A. Clippers.

•ÊLake Oswego's Mychal Thompson says he is mulling an offer to serve as radio analyst for L.A. Lakers broadcasts beginning next season. The Lakers, who always simulcast during the Chick Hearn era, will now split broadcasting crews. Thompson, radio analyst for the Minnesota Timberwolves the past two seasons, says he would work with either Joel Meyers or Larry Burnett and would be co-host of a daily three-hour radio sports talk show.

'I am seriously considering it,' says Thompson, 48.

Thompson's preference, however, is to stay in Portland and work in either a coaching or front-office capacity with the Blazers.

'I would rather coach,' he says. 'I want to get back in the trenches, to reach young players and teach them what great coaches like Pat Riley and Jack Ramsay taught me.'

Thompson and his wife, Julie, also would prefer that the family stay put. Their three boys are 15, 13 and 12 and are happy in the area.

• What a great end to the college tennis season for Michael Calkins, who helped Illinois win the NCAA championship. Playing No. 5 singles, the junior out of Jesuit High won pressure-packed matches against Stanford in the semifinals and Vanderbilt in the finals to lift the Illini.

In the finals, Illinois trailed Vanderbilt 3-1 with the Nos. 4, 5 and 6 singles players still on the court. Calkins defeated the Commodores' Zach Dailey 6-4, 2-6, 6-1, and his teammates followed suit.

'It was nerve-racking, but you're not thinking so much about that as just what you need to do to win the match,' says Calkins, who went unbeaten in Illinois' NCAA Tournament run.

The Illini will have a good shot at defending its title, with no seniors and four juniors on the team this spring. For now, Calkins will cherish the thought of receiving a championship ring.

'We have to order it and won't get it until the fall,' Calkins says. 'I can wait. It's something I will always have to remind me of our accomplishment.'

• A year ago, he couldn't even make it past a spring minicamp with the San Francisco 49ers. Now Ken Simonton is being touted for Offensive Player of the Year honors in NFL Europe.

The former Oregon State running back has had a tremendous season for the Scottish Claymores. In eight games, he has rushed for 664 yards and seven touchdowns and caught 29 passes for 271 yards and two TDs. Going into last weekend's victory over Amsterdam, Simonton led the league in scoring and total yards from scrimmage, was second in rushing and punt returns and ranked fifth in receiving.

'Opportunity. That's something a man like me has for an ultimate goal,' says Simonton, who is Buffalo's property and will enter training camp in July competing with veterans Travis Henry and Olandis Gary and rookie Willis McGahee for a spot on the Bills' roster. 'With the right opportunity, I know I can play in the NFL.'

Contact Kerry Eggers at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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