Fair Game

Nate McMillan says if the situation were different - if the Trail Blazers were fighting for a playoff berth, for instance - he might not have granted Zach Randolph permission to miss two games this week to attend the funeral of his girlfriend's cousin.

Portland's second-year coach says he was moved by Randolph's mood when he arrived at the Rose Garden on Sunday, hours after learning of the shooting in his hometown of Marion, Ind.

'That's a friend he grew up with,' McMillan says. 'If you saw his face, the emotions he was carrying when he walked in … you can't say anything. It was the right thing to do.'

Sure, if it were a family member. But Randolph is a maximum-salary player, making $12 million this season and more than $146,000 a game. At the risk of sounding callous, Randolph is in a profession where his presence is needed every game, barring an emergency.

On the other hand, if Randolph doesn't make the effort to get back downcourt on defense - as he did on successive possessions Sunday night against Seattle - the Blazers may be better off without him.

'I should have gotten back,' Randolph told me after the game. 'I tried to. That's part of the game. Sometimes you get beat downcourt.'

Especially when you stand in backcourt and watch, half-hoping for a cherry-pick basket the other way.

• Thumbs up to McMillan for reversing field and giving Sergio Rodriguez extended minutes in Tuesday's win over Washington. The flamboyantly effective rookie point guard has both talent and potential (third in the NBA in assist/turnover ratio); he gives the Blazers both pizazz and a transition game.

Old-school McMillan needs to live with Rodriguez's mistakes - which, incidentally, occur less frequently than those of starter Jarrett Jack of late.

'His confidence in me is very important to me,' Rodriguez says of McMillan. 'Makes it easier for me to play. It's all mentality. It's good to know if I make one mistake, I won't go to the bench.'

Tod Leiweke, chief executive officer of Vulcan Sports and Entertainment, has made it official: Mike Golub, the Blazers' vice president of business operations, will not be the team's new president. Leiweke told the Portland Business Journal this week he will go outside the organization to hire Steve Patterson's successor.

Blazer insiders tell me they will be 'shocked' if Kevin Pritchard, the team's director of player personnel, isn't hired as general manager.

• The city of Portland will cover the $365,000 cost for a new Daktronics scoreboard with video capacity for PGE Park that will be ready for the opening of the Portland Beavers' season next month. It will be used for football, soccer and baseball.

'We were having lots of problems with the existing matrix board,' says David Logsdon, the city's spectator facilities manager. 'We patched and trouble-shot it all last year and concluded we needed to bite the bullet and replace it.'

Logsdon says consultants will safety test PGE Park's worn-down Nexturf artificial surface in the next few weeks, too.

'The primary issue is, has the surface hardened to the point where it poses a safety risk?' Logsdon says.

The guess here is, yes.

• With baseball and soccer seasons approaching, interim President Jack Cain likely will serve the Portland Beavers and Timbers at least through the year.

'It's difficult to find somebody right before the season,' says Cain, 63, former owner of the Single-A baseball Portland Rockies and minority investor in Beavers PCL Baseball, which owns the Beavers and Timbers. 'I'm willing to do it through the end of the season, or for as long as they need me.'

Peter Jacobsen was to undergo another back surgery - his seventh operation in the past three years, including knee surgery and a hip replacement - on Wednesday.

The former Lincoln High and UO golf standout had laser back surgery Feb. 27 and recovered well enough to shoot 12-under 201, tie for fifth and earn $64,350 at the Toshiba Classic in Newport Beach, Calif., on the Champions Tour from March 9 through March 11.

The next week, Jacobsen, 53, had to withdraw from the AT and T Classic in Valencia, Calif., with back pain. He says he expects to be out about a month this time.

• There are a lot of things wrong with the Winter Hawks, and it starts at the top. Co-owner Jack Donovan says the team wants to stay in Portland and play in Memorial Coliseum. After a recent inspection of the Coliseum's dilapidated condition, Western Hockey League Commissioner Ron Robison says the league could force the hockey club's owners to move to an arena with acceptable standards.

Well, there's one maybe 100 feet away. Just turn your head to the right and you'll see the Rose Garden, where the Hawks played many of their games until this season.

The only major additional cost at the garden is use of the video screen at $2,500 a game. Increased revenue from attendance at the bigger, newer, nicer, NHL-acceptable arena surely would make up for extra expenditures by the owners.

And if the Hawks moved primarily to the garden, they wouldn't have to worry about hauling those new replay screens into the coliseum. They could send them back on that slow boat to China and get a refund.

• What, fire Ernie Kent? Shouldn't the Ducks be talking about a pay raise and an extension?

• There's a tiny flag, unreadable from the stands, atop the scoreboard at Goss Stadium in Corvallis, the only sign noting Oregon State's NCAA baseball championship last June.

There ought to be a huge banner in left field celebrating such, flanked by slightly smaller banners paying tribute to the 2005 and '06 Pac-10 titles.

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