Archive for August, 2009

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.”

Discuss Grizzlies basketball on the InsideHoops Memphis Grizzlies forum.

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.

Pat Beverley signs in Greece

Michael Wallace of the Miami Herald reports:  If the Miami Heat is to get any production from its recent draft class, it won’t come until at least next season. Combo guard Pat Beverley, the 42nd overall pick in the NBA Draft, has agreed to a one-year deal with European power Olympiakos and departed for Greece on Wednesday. Beverley’s agent, Kevin Bradbury, confirmed Wednesday that his client agreed to the deal earlier this week. The Heat, which spent $1.5 million to acquire Beverley from the Los Angeles Lakers in a draft-night deal, will continue to own his NBA rights.

Wizards to visit China

The AP reports: Thirty years after the Washington Wizards became the first NBA team to visit China, veterans of the team plan a return trip to the basketball-crazed country next month. Hall of Fame center Wes Unseld, a star of the 1979 team then known as the Bullets, will be joined on the visit Sept. 5-15 by current Wizards players Caron Butler and Randy Foye, the team announced in a statement. Also joining them will be another former Bullet, towering 7-foot-7 center Gheorghe Muresan of Romania — one of the tallest men to ever play in the NBA. editor says: I was never able to tell George Muresan and the young Denzel Washington apart. Anyway, the team will reportedly travel to Beijing, Shanghai and elsewhere. Basketball remains huge in China. I’m sure the team will receive a warm welcome.

Hawks sign Joe Smith

atlanta Hawks sign Joe Smith

The Atlanta Hawks have signed veteran power forward Joe Smith  to a contract, it was announced today by Executive Vice President and General Manager Rick Sund.

According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, “the contract is a one-year deal Tuesday for the veteran’s minimum salary, approximately $1.3 million.”

“Joe’s acquisition provides us with a solid complement to our frontcourt,” said Sund. “Not only does he bring years of experience to our team, but his versatility gives our coaching staff a player who can play multiple positions and an individual who will provide tremendous leadership in the locker room.”

The 6-10, 225-pound Smith is a 14-year NBA veteran who most recently played 21 games for the Cleveland Cavaliers last season. Before joining the Cavs, he spent time with the Oklahoma City Thunder (where he participated in 36 contests), who bought out the remainder of his contract and released him on March 1. Smith saw action in 13 playoff games for Cleveland, averaging 5.5 ppg and 3.7 rpg (.460 FG%), and on the season, tallied 6.5 points and 4.7 rebounds (.496 FG%, .750 FT%).

Smith brings career numbers of 11.6 points, 6.7 rebounds and 1.0 assists (.456 FG%, .790 FT%) per game to the Hawks, where he will join experienced frontcourt mates Al Horford, Josh Smith and Zaza Pachulia. The NBA’s number one overall pick in 1995 by the Golden State Warriors, Smith was the consensus College Player of the Year at Maryland in 1995 and named to the 1995-96 All-Rookie team in addition to finishing third in the voting for the league’s Rookie of the Year award.

He has played in 52 postseason games over his career, scoring 6.5 points and grabbing 4.6 boards, while shooting .459 from the field and 78 percent from the line.

He spent two-and-a-half seasons with Warriors, tallying a career-best 18.7 points in his second year and was traded to the Philadelphia 76ers midway through the 1997-98 campaign. Following one year with the Sixers, Smith joined the Minnesota Timberwolves for the first of two stints in 1998-99 before signing with the Detroit Pistons for the 2000-01 season.

Following a return to the Timberwolves in the summer of 2001, Smith played two more years with Minnesota before moving on to the Milwaukee Bucks in 2003-04. After three seasons with the Bucks, he played in only 11 games with the Denver Nuggets before being traded (along with Andre Miller) back to the Sixers (for Allen Iverson) for the remainder of the 2006-07 season.

For the next season (2007-08), Smith was a member of the Chicago Bulls and played in 50 contests, averaging 11.2 points before being traded in a three-team deal to Cleveland. He was a part of another three-team trade later that summer when the Cavaliers sent him to Oklahoma City, where he remained until he returned to Cleveland.

He was named Associated Press All-American and was the Atlantic Coast Conference’s Player of the Year as a sophomore at Maryland. In two seasons with the Terrapins, he averaged 20.1 points and 10.7 rebounds per game.

Joseph Leynard Smith, born July 26, 1975 in Norfolk, VA, will wear uniform number 32 with the Hawks.

Cavaliers sign Danny Green

The Cleveland Cavaliers have signed guard/forward Danny Green to a contract, Cavaliers General Manager Danny Ferry announced today. Per team and league policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed. We’ll try to post contract info later today.

The Cavaliers selected Green with the 46th overall pick in the 2009 NBA Draft. Green played four seasons at North Carolina and averaged 9.4 points on .455 shooting and 4.1 rebounds. He was named to the ACC All-Defensive Team, the All-ACC Third Team and the NCAA South Regional Tournament Team. The 6-foot-6, 210-pound guard/forward finished his college career as the only player in ACC history to tally at least 1,000 points, 500 rebounds, 250 assists, 150 three-pointers, 150 blocks and 150 steals and is the only player in the Tarheel’s history to record 100 or more blocks shots and three-point field goals. As a senior he averaged career-best 13.1 points on .471 shooting, including shooting .418 from three-point range and 4.7 rebounds in 38 games (all starts) as North Carolina won the 2009 NCAA Championship.

Green played for the Cavaliers’ team during the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas. In five games (three starts) he averaged 8.2 points and 2.6 rebounds in 20.4 minutes per game.

Caron Butler stops drinking soda

WashingtonWizards.Com: You look to be in great shape, what type of workouts have you been focusing on this summer?

Caron Butler: It’s been a combination of a lot of things. Most of the things I have been doing have been on the field. Doing a lot of dynamic work. I’ve been doing a lot of sprints and agility work. I’ve been working on my speed mechanics and getting a lot of conditioning in as well as working on my strength in the weight room. I’m getting a lot of shots up, anywhere from 1,000 to 1,400 makes a day.

WashingtonWizards.Com: I have also heard that you cut out something from your diet this summer, can you talk about that and the difference it has made?

CB: Sure. I cut out soda this summer. I stopped drinking soda April 8th, I have been away from soda basically the whole summer. No mountain dew, no grape soda, just water and juices. I got a nice juicer and I’ve been mixing a whole lot of things in there and my body is feeling a lot better from not drinking the soda and sticking with just the juices.

No legal sports betting for Delaware

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports: In the latest legal ruling on sports gambling in Delaware, the four major sports and the NCAA came out clear winners. A federal appeals court in Philadelphia ruled yesterday that sports betting in the First State would violate a 1992 federal ban on such wagering. Delaware had planned to offer betting next week; it may still try to do so on a limited basis in the near future. “We were hoping the court would rule on the merits,” said Kenneth Nachbar, an attorney representing the NFL, NBA, NHL, NCAA, and Major League Baseball. The plan was opposed by the pro leagues and the NCAA, which claimed it would harm their reputations and expose young people to gambling. They also said the plan violated the federal Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act.

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports: Cristal Taylor, the former fiancée of Dallas Mavericks star Dirk Nowitzki, was sentenced Monday to five years in prison for violating probation in a decade-old forgery and theft case. The sentence virtually ensures that Taylor, 38, will still be incarcerated when Nowitzki and the Mavericks open the regular season in late October. What was not made clear Monday is whether Taylor is carrying Nowitzki’s child, an assertion she and her attorneys had held since late May. If the tall, still-slender Taylor is pregnant, it wasn’t plainly evident as she stood before Circuit Judge Nancy Schneider’s bench in loose-fitting orange prison garb.

Tim Donaghy back in jail

The AP reports: Disgraced former NBA referee Tim Donaghy is back behind bars. According to Hillsborough County jail records, Donaghy was being held without bond Tuesday for a federal rule violation. Details were not available. A message left early Tuesday at the office of Donaghy’s attorney was not immediately returned. editor says: I just hope somewhere along the way, he gets punched in the face a few times for harming the sport I love. Anyway, this blog entry will be updated when more is known.

Suns name John Shumate assistant coach

The Phoenix Suns today named John Shumate an assistant coach.  Shumate, a one-time Suns draft pick and 30-year veteran of basketball on the professional and collegiate levels, joins Bill Cartwright, Dan Majerle and Igor Kokoskov on head coach Alvin Gentry’s staff.

Having just completed his 12th season as a member of the Suns’ front office, Shumate makes the move to Gentry’s staff after serving in the club’s scouting department for all but one of the last eight seasons.  Shumate served as the head coach of the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury in 2003.

Shumate’s wealth of basketball experience was formed over the last 30 years as a player, coach and college scout.  Originally the fourth overall pick of the 1974 NBA Draft by the Suns, Shumate was named All-NBA Rookie First Team in 1975-76 after sitting out his rookie campaign with a blood clot injury.  The Notre Dame product played seven NBA seasons and averaged 12.3 points and 7.5 rebounds in 318 games with the Suns, Buffalo, Detroit, Houston, San Antonio and Seattle.

Following his playing career, Shumate coached 17 consecutive years at the college and pro level at Notre Dame (assistant coach, 1981-83, 1986-88), Grand Canyon College (now Grand Canyon State, head coach, 1983-86), Southern Methodist University (head coach, 1988-94) and the NBA’s Toronto Raptors (assistant coach, 1995-98).  The 57-year-old rejoined the Suns organization as a community relations representative in 1998 before moving to the scouting department in 2000.

The team also announced today the addition of Bruce Fraser to the scouting staff.  Elvis Valcarcel has been promoted to video coordinator after one season as assistant video coordinator.

Talk Suns basketball in the InsideHoops Phoenix Suns forum.

Michael Beasley checks into rehab center

The AP reports: The Miami Heat forward checked into a Houston rehabilitation facility last week and is being treated for various issues, including depression, a person briefed on the situation told the Associated Press yesterday. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because of privacy concerns, and could not say whether the other issues included drug or alcohol treatment. “Based on what I’m getting right now, there’s a bit of concern,’’ Bruce Shingler, Beasley’s manager, said in a telephone interview. “I don’t really know what’s going on. I just know his mom is on her way to go see him in Houston. That’s it. I’m still collecting a lot of information.’’ It’s unknown how long Beasley, 20, will remain at the facility, or whether he will be available when the Heat open training camp Sept. 28.

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