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Kukoc missed 23 games with hip injury

Seattle SuperSonics: General manager Rick Sund is talking with Ray Allen's agent about a contract extension.

Allen said he hopes for an agreement before the Feb. 24 trade deadline. If he is not signed or traded by then, he would become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season.

Allen is in the last year of a contract that will pay him more than $14 million this season. The 29-year-old is averaging a career-high 24 points.

Milwaukee Bucks: The Bucks activated forward Toni Kukoc and center Daniel Santiago before Wednesday night's game against the New Jersey Nets.

Kukoc, a veteran who has spent two productive seasons with the team, had missed 23 games this season with a strained right hip. He played in four games before going on the injured list.

Santiago came off the injured list after missing 17 games with a right eye corneal abrasion he suffered in practice Nov. 19.

Also Wednesday, the Bucks waived guards Kendall Gill and Eddie House.

Gill averaged 6.1 points in 14 games since signing as a free agent with the Bucks on Dec. 6. House averaged 3.2 points in five games since signing as a free agent Dec. 18.

Detroit Pistons:
Derrick Coleman was released by the Pistons on Thursday after playing in just five games for the NBA champions.

The 6-foot-10 forward averaged 1.8 points, three rebounds and 10 minutes this season, and he missed 17 games with a leg injury.

The first overall pick in the 1990 draft, Coleman has career NBA averages of 16.5 points and 9.3 rebounds but was slowed by injuries the past two-plus seasons.

Detroit acquired Coleman from Philadelphia during the offseason for Corliss Williamson to clear salary-cap space that could be used in the future to re-sign Ben Wallace and Tayshaun Prince.

The Pistons owe Coleman $4.5 million for this season and can buy out the final year of his contract for $2 million.

In another move, Detroit signed guard Anthony Goldwire to a 10-day contract, a day after releasing point guard William "Smush" Parker.

In 231 NBA games, the 33-year-old Goldwire has averaged 6.5
points, 2.9 assists and 1.3 rebounds.

Los Angeles Lakers: Vlade Divac needs back surgery and will be out at least 12 more weeks, another setback to the center's homecoming season with the Lakers.

"I heard today he's going to be out pretty long," coach Rudy Tomjanovich said before Wednesday night's game against the Mavericks. "It's a tough thing, but it happens. He was part of our plans but it just never materialized. We were hoping to use that passing to get some layups."

Divac went on the injured list Nov. 1 with a herniated disk in his lower back. He returned Nov. 23 but played just 37 minutes over eight games. Divac also had surgery to repair a herniated disk in November 1991, his third season in the league.

Divac, who turns 37 next month, spent his first seven seasons with the Lakers and the past six with Sacramento. He signed with Los Angeles in the offseason.

Tomjanovich said not having Divac could mean more minutes for Slava Medvedenko, who hasn't played much lately.

"I think the guy deserves to start playing," Tomjanovich said.

Los Angeles Clippers: The Clippers signed Darrick Martin to a 10-day contract Wednesday, bringing back the guard who helped lead the team to its last playoff appearance in 1997.

The Clippers also placed forward Chris Wilcox on the injured list and activated center Mamadou N'Diaye from the injured list.

Martin has averaged 7.9 points, 3.2 assists and 19.9 minutes in nine NBA seasons. He spent part of last season with Minnesota, including making three starts in the Western Conference finals.

He played for the Clippers from 1996-99, averaging 10.1 points and four rebounds in 201 games. The Clippers lost to Utah in the playoffs in 1997.

Martin, who starred at UCLA, was expected to be in uniform Wednesday night when the Clippers played host to Portland.

New York Knicks: The Knicks placed Penny Hardaway on the injured list Wednesday, just four days after he returned from a strained right hamstring.

Hardaway, averaging 5.8 points, 2.5 rebounds and 22 minutes in 16 games this season, missed 14 games last month. He failed to score in 13 minutes in New York's loss to New Jersey on Saturday night.

The Knicks did not replace Hardaway on the active roster.

Cleveland Cavaliers: The Cavaliers activated guard Dajuan Wagner and placed rookie forward Luke Jackson on the injured list before playing the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday night.

Wagner was sidelined since Dec. 22 with a foot injury. In 11 games this season, the former first-round draft pick is averaging four points and 1.2 assists in 9.3 minutes.

Jackson, the 10th overall pick in this year's draft, has played in just 10 games. He's averaging 2.9 points and less than five minutes.

Denver Nuggets: The Nuggets have waived forwards Mark Pope and Arthur Johnson, parting ways with two injured players who haven't been in a game this season.

Pope, a seven-year NBA veteran, was placed on the injured list because of knee tendinitis. He played in four games last season, scoring two points and grabbing three rebounds.

Johnson was signed by the Nuggets as a rookie free agent from Missouri but landed on the injured list with the same problem as Pope.

New Jersey Nets: The Nets signed forward Jerome Moiso to a 10-day contract and waived forward Kaniel Dickens on Wednesday.

Moiso was waived by the Nets on Monday after appearing in two games. He was signed on Dec. 28.

Dickens, who was signed on Dec. 8, averaged 1.3 points in 10 games.

Toronto Raptors: For years, Shawn Respert swallowed his pride when he heard or read his name mentioned as an NBA bust. Now, the former Michigan State star is ready to tell his side of the story.

"I had cancer," Respert said Tuesday in an interview with The Associated Press. "I don't want people to feel sorry for me, or think I'm making an excuse about why it didn't work out for me in the NBA. I just want people who have wondered, 'Whatever happened to Shawn Respert?' to know that I wasn't strung out on drugs or anything bad like that. Maybe my story will inspire somebody who is struggling for whatever reason in their life."

Life was great for Respert 10 years ago. He was averaging nearly 26 points a game as a senior for the Spartans and the shooting guard impressed enough people to be the eighth pick in the 1995 NBA draft.

Everything changed toward the end of his rookie season with Milwaukee. His stomach started bothering him, so he altered his diet. But that didn't make the unbearable cramps go away.

"One day I felt a lump the size of a marble below my belly button," Respert said. "After I finally saw a doctor a couple weeks later, the lump had gotten bigger."

When medicine didn't make the lump go away, Respert went through a series of tests at St. Joseph Regional Medical Center in Milwaukee in May 1996.

"When the doctor said, 'You have cancer in your abdomen,' I said, 'C'mon. There's no way. I'm 23 and I'm in the NBA,'" Respert recalled. "I was in denial, so I got a second opinion. But then another doctor in Milwaukee verified that I had cancerous cells in my stomach."

Respert underwent radiation therapy every day for three straight months, but his condition didn't improve.

"When doctors then said we had to do more radiation and medicine, that's when reality hit me that this was truly for real," he said. "I had been optimistic before that and was worried about proving that I was worth the eighth pick, but then I
started concentrating on just getting healthy."

While Respert was dealing with his ordeal, the only people who knew about it were the Bucks' trainers, doctors and then-general manager and coach, Mike Dunleavy.

"It's crazy, but I didn't tell my mom or dad, my grandparents or my girlfriend at the time, who is now my wife," he said.

Respert, who lost 20 pounds over three months of radiation treatments, was still determined to make it in the NBA. Just when Respert thought he had turned the corner with his health and career, then-Bucks coach Chris Ford didn't play him in the first two games of the 1996-97 season.

"That took the air out of me," he said. "I started feeling what most survivors feel, alone. It devastated me as a player and a person, and it changed the way I focused my life. I figured that what I did at Michigan State was more than a dream come true, so I didn't care about anything other than my health and my family. That pushed me away from the mentality that made me successful as a player, but it helped me become more happy as a man."

Respert's cancer went into remission and hasn't come back, but his NBA career was never revived. In his second season, Respert was traded to Toronto, where he averaged 5.6 points a game. Respert played briefly in Dallas the next season and had a second stint with the Raptors. His NBA career ended quietly in Phoenix during the 1998-99 season. In 172 games over four seasons, he averaged 4.9 points in 13.7 minutes per game.

Respert played professionally in Greece, Italy and Poland over the next four years before retiring in 2003. Despite knee and foot injuries, he had a successful final season in Poland, inspired by the passing of his grandfather, Ben Byse.

"On his death bed, he said, 'Shawn, I want to see you back out there playing like you did at Michigan State,'" said Respert, fighting back tears. "I promised him I would and I'm proud to say I led the Polish league in about five categories the last season I played."

After being a volunteer coach at Prairie View A&M in Texas last season, Respert was hired in August to be the director of basketball operations at Rice University in Houston.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.