Posts Tagged ‘Brian Cook’

Two years later, Cook seeks a shot

Sharpshooter Brian Cook is seeking to rejoin the NBA after taking off for family matters.

Sharpshooter Brian Cook is seeking to rejoin the NBA after taking off for family matters.

ORLANDO — The summer leagues are full of stories.

There are well-known rookies such as, Aaron Gordon, Marcus Smart and Shabazz Napier trying to make the step up to the next level.

There are second-year pros Steven Adams and Kelly Olynyk looking to expand their skills and add polish.

There are guys like Maarty Leunen, drafted by the Rockets back in 2008, who has made a playing career for himself in Europen, but wants a crack at the big time.

Then there’s Brian Cook.

At 33, he’s not just the oldest player on the court at the Orlando Pro Summer League. He’s the only one who’s been away from the game for the past two years and is knocking on the door trying to get back in.

Cook’s wife, Victoria, had cancer and he stepped away from his NBA career to help her through the battle with the disease.

“It was something that I had to do and it’s the kind of thing that you don’t even think twice about,” Cook said. “There are bigger things than playing games.”

But now, two years later, the 6-foot-9 forward with 3-point range is here with the Pistons in an attempt to resurrect his career.

“I’ve really missed being out there on the court competing every day,” Cook said. “I know some people might think it’s kind of strange to try to do this at this point or it’s a long shot. But I kind of think that I still have something to contribute to the game and I’m looking to maybe get in a couple of years.”

Cook, who was a first-round draft choice of the Lakers in 2003 and played for five different teams — also Magic, Rockets, Clippers, Wizards — in nine seasons, reached out to Stan Van Gundy as soon his former coach took over in Detroit and asked for an opportunity in the summer league. He is here with no guarantees, no promises.

“I called him right away,” Cook said. “As a free agent, I can try to get on anywhere. But I’m comfortable with Stan’s offense and I’m also comfortable with the way he respected me and treated me and really cared about me when I played for him here in Orlando. Those are the kind of things that you take for granted as young kid and then come to appreciate more once you mature and have been around the block a few times in different situations. You really come to appreciate it even more when you’ve been at home like I have for the past several years helping my wife and being with the family.”

Cook has struggled to find his shooting stroke in his first two games, making just 5-of-18 shots and 3-of-12 from behind the arc. But he figures the shot will come with time and repetition and Cook is currently enjoying just being back in a locker room again, back wearing a jersey, back sharing the the highs and lows of game experiences, even if it is mostly with kids who are at least 10 years younger.

Van Gundy might not be able to provide the spot on his roster this season as he makes over the Pistons, but he is giving the veteran a chance to show other NBA teams that there is still something left after Cook gave the last two years to his family and wife, who is now cancer-free.

“I really believe that I’ve still got the ability to compete at this level and help a team,” Cook said. “I’m just hoping for a real shot.”

Nuggets Swap Nene For McGee

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — In a day filled with moves both major and minor, obvious and perhaps not so obvious, one complex deal stood out above the crowd here at the hideout.

The Denver Nuggets traded Nene to Washington for JaVale McGee and Ronny Turiaf, with the Clippers helping facilitate the deal by sending Brian Cook and a future second-round draft pick to Washington for Nick Young.

The Clippers clearly got what they needed in Young, a scoring machine who can play alongside Chris Paul in the backcourt but also has the size to work at small forward as well. But what the Nuggets and Wizards get out of this deal remains a little a murky at this point.

McGee is a talented but enigmatic player who has struggled to put it all together in Washington, But he does offer the Nuggets some size, athleticism and big-time defensive potential for a very reasonable price. Toss in the fact that he’s a restricted free agent after this season, the salary-cap relief alone provided the Nuggets with a financial opportunity they simply could not pass up.

But it throws their December signing of Nene to a five-year, $67 million deal onto the top of the buyer’s remorse pile. Apparently Nene’s injury history and struggles this season overshadowed his value (13.4 points and 7.4 rebounds) to a Nuggets team in the thick of the Western Conference playoff chase.

On paper it seems to make good sense, but is Nene the low-post anchor the Wizards needs to help point guard John Wall come into his own? And does McGee, even in the short-term and at such a discount compared to Nene, really make the Nuggets better in a playoff series in the rugged Western Conference?

There simply are not definitive answers to either one of those questions right now. That’s not acceptable for the Nuggets, a team that has to mind its money in the wake of their work at the trade deadline last season, when they sent Carmelo Anthony to New York in a blockbuster deal that many observers feared would decimate their team.

What’s not clear is what impact rookie Kenneth Faried‘s play had on the Nuggets’ decision. He’s played so well as of late (11 points and 8 rebounds in his last 10 games and scored a career-high 20 points to go with 12 boards in 34 minutes Monday in a 119-116 overtime win over the Kings), the front office has to take notice and wonder if they could get the same sort of production from Faried as they have from Nene.

If this deal for the Nuggets was more about the future of Faried than anything else, then it makes much more sense for the Nuggets. Because for all of the dollars they might have saved by trading Nene, they also needed a deal that makes sense for a team that’s already a playoff squad.

Knuckle Up!

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Desperate times call for desperate measures.

And prior to Sunday’s game at the Rose Garden, the Portland Trail Blazers and Los Angeles Clippers were the living, breathing, jump-shooting and dunking embodiment of desperate.

The Blazers were trying to snap a six-game losing streak. The Clippers were trying to win on the road for the first time this season. The result was a fantastic wrestling match with some pretty good basketball mixed in for good measure.

Seriously, though, both of these teams will continue to fight to save their seasons. They have to, with so much drama swirling around their respective camps.