Last year, Quinn Cook signed a two-year, $6 million contract with the Lakers with the hope that he’d be able to crack Frank Vogel’s rotation. Unfortunately for Cook, that never happened and his non-guaranteed salary for the 2020-21 season was waived last month.
Upon clearing waivers, Cook re-signed with the Lakers, but under much different circumstances. According to a report from Keith Smith of Real GM, Cook’s contract is a non-guaranteed training camp deal, meaning his contract doesn’t currently count against the cap.
Quinn Cook's new contract with the LA Lakers is a non-guaranteed training camp deal. It will convert to a standard non-guaranteed contract (becoming fully guaranteed on 2/27/21) if Cook makes the Lakers roster out of camp.— Keith Smith (@KeithSmithNBA) December 7, 2020
In theory, that means the Lakers can sign another veteran player to a training camp deal, but it doesn’t mean that they’ll be able to go into the season with a full, 17-man roster (including their pair of two-way contracts).
Even though Cook’s contract won’t become fully-guaranteed until February, he will still have a cap hold if he makes it past training camp. Because the Lakers are operating under the hard cap, they don’t have room for a 15th cap hold, not even for the veteran’s minimum.
In layman’s terms, if the Lakers signed another veteran player like DeWayne Dedmon to a non-guaranteed training camp deal, he would compete with Cook for the final roster spot. As interesting as that would be, I’d argue it’s unlikely because the Lakers have already started practicing, and their first preseason game is on Friday.
What this deal actually does is give the Lakers flexibility to add another player or two later on in the season, as Yossi Gozlan of HoopsHype explains below:
With Cook non-guaranteed, if he makes the roster and is waived on Feb 24, three days before the Feb 27 league-wide cut-down deadline, then the Lakers could sign two new players with at least 2 years of service to rest-of-season prorated minimum deals that same week. https://t.co/0cVDPi4Dgx— Yossi Gozlan (@YoggiMane) December 7, 2020
Cool will work to show that he’s not expendable in training camp and — assuming he makes the final cut, in the regular season — but ultimately the Lakers are going to do whatever it takes to put themselves in a position to repeat, and the tactical construction of Cook’s construction reflects that. Chalk this up as another savvy move by Rob Pelinka.