Roko Ukic shines for Croatia

Charles F. Gardner of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports: Roko Ukic, the 6-foot-5 point guard acquired by the Bucks in a trade with Toronto earlier this month, was named most valuable player of the Efes Pilsen World Cup after leading Croatia to the tournament title. Ukic had 21 points to pace Croatia to a 90-83 victory over Macedonia in the title game. Earlier, he had 16 points against Turkey and 15 points against Germany as Croatia went 3-0 in a tune-up for the European Championship to be held in Poland. Andrew Bogut, whose parents are from Croatia, said he first met Ukic in 2003 when Bogut’s Australian team defeated Ukic’s Croatian team in the semifinals of the junior world championships. When the Bucks played in Toronto last season, Bogut and Ukic went out to dinner the night before the game.

Rudy Gay bulks up

Ronald Tillery of the Memphis Commercial Appeal reports: Rudy Gay carries, by his estimation, about 15 pounds of added muscle. He’ll tell you his level of focus is immeasurable behind a strong showing during USA Basketball’s July minicamp. His desire to elevate the Grizzlies is off the charts with training camp less than a month away and three consecutive losing seasons in the rearview mirror. “I want to be an All-Star. Everything I do now is trying to help me get to that point,” Gay said. “If I’m at the top of my game and recognized as an All-Star, it’ll mean we’re winning.”

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Nets giving away free jerseys

With the economy still struggling, many businesses need to seek new, innovative ways to attract attention and draw consumer dollars. Vincent M. Mallozzi of the New York Times reports:

Perhaps no other team has enhanced its marketing game the way the Nets have. They are offering ticket buyers free jerseys, complete with the names of their favorite players — and their favorite opponents.

The Nets are promoting a 10-game plan that includes tickets to see the Los Angeles Lakers, the Boston Celtics, the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Miami Heat and the Orlando Magic. Any fan who buys at least two tickets to one of those games will receive a reversible jersey, one side featuring the name of a Nets star, like guard Devin Harris, and the other featuring the name of a marquee opponent: Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Shaquille O’Neal, Dwyane Wade, Dwight Howard, Vince Carter, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce or Ray Allen.

“I don’t think it has ever been done before,” said Chris Granger, the N.B.A.’s senior vice president for team marketing and business operations. “I don’t think any team has ever given premium items as part of a promotion that highlights someone from another team.”

The Nets have a tough time drawing fans to games primarily due to the location of their arena. Factor in the team’s current rebuilding state and they have to be creative in order to keep drawing fans as they continue their hopeful move to Brooklyn, New York.

If nothing else, Heat are consistent

Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports (via blog): Over the past six seasons, only four NBA teams have finished fifth or higher in their conference at least five times. The Spurs, the league’s gold standard of consistency, have done it in each of the past six years. Otherwise, the only teams to have done it are the Mavericks, Pistons, and, yes, the Heat. Not the Lakers. Not the Celtics. Not the Cavaliers. Not Kobe. Not Pierce. Not LeBron.

Jason Richardson suspended 2 games

Jason Richardson of the Phoenix Suns has been suspended without pay for two games for pleading guilty to driving under the influence, in violation of the law of the State of Arizona, the NBA announced today.

Richardson will be suspended for the first two games of the 2009-10 NBA regular season for which he is eligible and physically able to play.

JR Smith suspended 7 games

The NBA announced today that J.R. Smith of the Denver Nuggets has been suspended without pay for seven games for pleading guilty to reckless driving, in violation of the law of the State of New Jersey, in connection with a 2007 accident resulting in the death of a passenger in Smith’s car, and for prior and subsequent motor vehicle offenses.

Smith’s suspension will commence with the first game of the 2009-10 NBA regular season for which he is eligible and physically able to play.

The following is a statement from Nuggets Vice President of Basketball Operations Mark Warkentien regarding J.R. Smith’s suspension: “The commissioner’s office has made it clear that it wants to set the highest standard of personal conduct for its athletes. We will support J.R. as he continues to deal with the tragic accident he was involved with two years ago and the consequences of his painful mistake. Being that this is strictly a league decision, we will have no further comment.”

Benjamin Hochman  of the Denver Post reports: At Smith’s June 30 trial, he was sentenced to 90 days in the Monmouth County (N.J.) jail but the judge suspended all but 30 days provided Smith performs 500 hours of community service. Because it was his second reckless driving offense, the maximum penalties are 90 days in jail and up to a $500 fine. Smith was fined the maximum plus $39 in other costs. Smith drove a 2003 GMC Yukon around a stopped car and through a stop sign, according to authorities at the scene of the June 9, 2007 crash. Smith drove through the intersection and his SUV was struck by a car, they said. The Yukon overturned, and Smith and Bell were ejected.

Grizzlies sign Trey Gilder

The Memphis Grizzlies have signed former NBA Development League standout and free-agent forward Trey Gilder, Grizzlies General Manager and Vice President of Basketball Operations Chris Wallace announced today.  Per team policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed.

A key reserve for the 2009 NBA D-League Champion Colorado 14ers, the 6-9, 185-pound rookie forward averaged 13.7 points and 5.5 rebounds in 23.9 minutes in 50 games (11 starts), as the team posted the D-League’s best regular season record (34-16) and captured the franchise’s first D-League title.  Gilder, who was originally selected by the 14ers in the second round (31st overall) of the 2008 NBA D-League Draft, averaged 10.5 points and 3.5 rebounds in 14.8 minutes per game in all four of the team’s postseason contests.

Most recently, the 24-year-old was a member of the Grizzlies’ undefeated 2009 Vegas Summer League roster, posting 5.4 points and 2.8 rebounds on 63.2 percent shooting in 12.8 minutes in five games last month.  The Desoto, Tex. native originally worked out for the club at a three-day free agent mini-camp in Memphis from May 11-13, 2009.

Gilder, who was not selected in the 2008 NBA Draft, was named to the 2007-08 All-Southland Conference First Team after leading the Northwestern State Demons in points (16.4) and rebounds (6.2) as a senior, finishing ninth in school history in points in a single season (542).

The roster currently stands at 14 players.

Nuggets re-sign Johan Petro

The Denver Nuggets have re-signed C Johan Petro, Nuggets Vice President of Basketball Operations Mark Warkentien announced today. Per league policy, terms of the contract were not released.

Petro, 23, has career averages of 5.4 ppg, and 4.3 rpg in 270 regular season games with the Nuggets and the Oklahoma City/Seattle franchise. He originally came to Denver by trade from the Thunder on Jan. 7 along with a 2009 second-round draft choice, in exchange for G Chucky Atkins and a 2009 first-round draft choice. He was drafted in the first round (25th overall) of the 2005 NBA Draft by the Seattle SuperSonics.

This past season, Petro appeared in 27 games (10 starts) for the Nuggets, averaging 2.2 ppg and 2.3 rpg. He posted his Nuggets’ season-highs of nine points, 10 rebounds and 21 minutes vs. Boston on Feb. 23. He also appeared in 10 postseason games for Denver in 2009.

Hornets re-sign Sean Marks

The New Orleans Hornets announced today that they have re-signed free agent center Sean Marks.  Per team policy, terms of the contracts were not released.

“We’re very pleased to re-sign Sean due to his ability to provide a low post presence off the bench and how well he fit in with our team,” said Hornets General Manager Jeff Bower.  “He had one of his best seasons as a pro with us last season, and we anticipate that he will continue to develop as a player under Coach Scott.”

Marks (6-10, 250) originally signed with the Hornets on August 28, 2008, after spending the first eight seasons of his NBA career with the Miami Heat, Phoenix Suns, San Antonio Spurs and Toronto Raptors.  He averaged 3.2 points and 3.1 rebounds in 14.1 minutes, appearing in 60 games (five starts) last season.

“Sean was a big part of our success last season and he showed that he could be called upon to play a larger role when necessary,” said Head Coach Byron Scott.  “I look forward to having him back as a reliable big man option.”

The first native of New Zealand to play in the NBA, Marks had career-highs for points (18), blocks (4), steals (2), assists (2), minutes played (36) and games played (60) during the 2008-09 season.  The Kiwi started five games last season, averaging 5.4 points, 4.8 rebounds and 0.8 blocks in 23.8 minutes.

Magic re-sign Adonal Foyle

The Orlando Magic have re-signed free agent center Adonal Foyle, General Manager Otis Smith announced today.  Per team policy, terms of the deal are not disclosed.

Foyle played in 10 games last season with both the Magic and Memphis, averaging 1.7 ppg. and 2.6 rpg. in 6.2 minpg.  He was traded to Memphis as part of the three-team deal that sent Rafer Alston to Orlando on Feb. 19, later waived by Memphis on Mar. 1, then re-signed by Orlando on Mar. 23.

Originally selected by Golden State in the first round (eighth overall) of the 1997 NBA Draft, Foyle (6’10”, 270, 3/9/75) has appeared in 733 regular season games during his 12-year NBA career with Golden State, Orlando and Memphis, averaging 4.1 ppg., 4.7 rpg. and 1.63 blkpg. in 17.8 minpg.  Foyle is Golden State’s all-time franchise leader in blocked shots with 1,140. editor says: Foyle can barely play basketball. But he’s big and therefore keeps getting signed.