The first move the Los Angeles Lakers made to clear salary ahead of free agency this offseason was to cut Quinn Cook and his partially guaranteed contract, but during a recent appearance on “The Road Trippin” podcast, LeBron James said he hoped the team would bring Cook back.
“Quinn, he’s a pro, he’s definitely going to get a look,” James said then. “Hopefully back with us. ... Hopefully we may bring him back.”
Well, the King got his wish, as the Lakers announced in a press release on Friday that Cook is back with the team he grew up rooting for.
The Los Angeles Lakers have re-signed guard Quinn Cook, it was announced today by Vice President of Basketball Operations and General Manager Rob Pelinka. Per team policy, terms of the deal were not released.
Cook played in 44 games (one start) for the Lakers last season, averaging 5.1 points (.425 FG%), 1.2 rebounds and 1.1 assists in 11.5 minutes. In 165 career games (29 starts) for Dallas, New Orleans, Golden State and Los Angeles, Cook has tallied 6.8 points (.463 FG%, .407 3FG%), 1.8 rebounds and 1.7 assists in 15.1 minutes. He has appeared in 40 playoff games, averaging 4.1 points (.429 FG%) and 1.1 rebounds.
Cook brings the Lakers’ training camp roster to 19 players and 14 guaranteed contracts, which is (functionally) the most they can have for cap reasons. This likely wraps up their offseason moves, at least for now.
The Lakers were originally (reportedly) planning to stretch Cook’s salary, which would explain why they cut him. Because they ultimately didn’t, they can bring him back, and functionally saved themselves around $400k in salary under the hard cap, while Cook will take about a $300K haircut off his guaranteed money to come back:
Cook was on the books at $3 mil - they cut him with $1 mil guaranteed. They're re-signing him at the min, so his cap hit will be $1.6 mil - so $2.6 mil on the cap to Cook instead of $3 mil. He'll earn $1 mil + $1,737,145 = $2,737,145 total - so almost the original $— Eric Pincus (@EricPincus) December 5, 2020
I haven't seen Cook's contract, it was just announced, so don't know if it's fully guaranteed or no. If it is, worth noting that roster construction isn't 100% based on maximizing every single second of on-court productivity. Some players just make a team better by being there— Eric Pincus (@EricPincus) December 5, 2020
Cook was a huge part of the Lakers’ vaunted chemistry last season, and he can shoot the hell out of the ball. With the addition of Dennis Schröder as another point guard who can handle the ball and guard bigger players, he also might serve more utility than he could last year, when the Lakers’ only real ball-handler was LeBron. If Cook gets a look with bench lineups now, he might be able to serve a bit more purpose and fit better than he could before now that he won’t ever (barring injury) have to handle the ball and serve as a floor general.
But — and this might be the key — we also know Cook won’t grouse if he falls out of the rotation, an important quality for an end-of-bench player who just so happens to also be basically best friends with everyone on the team. This may be a slightly unexpected re-signing, but perhaps it shouldn’t be, given James’ advocacy for Cook. And hey, we already know he can fit in on a Lakers contender. Now he just has to do it again.
This story may update with more information as it develops. For more Lakers talk, subscribe to the Silver Screen and Roll podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts. You can follow Harrison on Twitter at @hmfaigen.