The Lakers officially waived Quinn Cook on Wednesday, which means the team now has two open roster spots, and is far enough under the hard cap to add two players on veteran’s minimum deals for the rest of the season and the playoffs. Will the team do so? Almost assuredly, but according to head coach Frank Vogel, nothing is necessarily imminent.
“We’ll always look at opportunities to improve our team, but nothing concrete right now,” Vogel said before the team’s loss to the Jazz.
Vogel was specifically asked about the possibility of the Lakers adding players on 10-day contracts, something the team could do in order to, in essence, check a few options out on a rental before committing to sign them for the rest of the season. NBA teams can sign players to 10-day deals twice during a season before they have to decide whether or not to let them go or sign them for the rest of the season.
A more likely option, however, might be the Lakers waiting until closer to the March 25 trade deadline, when they could either attempt to make a deal — something they’ve been rumored to be discussing — or try to sign players who either get bought out straightaway, or traded and waived. That would keep the team from getting any immediate aid while they try to survive the absences of Dennis Schröder and Anthony Davis, but Schröder should reportedly be back by their next game, and Davis likely a little after the All-Star break next week. They don’t necessarily need to plug holes immediately, and let’s be real: No player available right now is helping make up for those absences, anyway. Sorry, Dion Waiters. The Lakers are better off waiting, even if this losing streak has sucked.
But if you want something more specific than all of that, Vogel isn’t your guy. When pressed on what type of needs the Lakers might look to address with potential additions to their roster in broad strokes, he shut the question down.
“We’re just looking at the players who are available. I’m not gonna discuss any types of needs that we’re discussing internally,” Vogel said.
That’s totally understandable, because after all, the Lakers have no incentive to tip their hand publicly. However, it does mean we’ll be in the dark about their intentions for a little while longer. That said, while it would be foolish to presume that Lakers fans will “rest assured” of anything right now — have you seen social media and the comments section on this site during their current losing streak? — they should at least be aware that the Lakers got rid of Cook because they want to get better. That was clear when listening to what Vogel had to say.
“He will definitely be missed. First of all, he’s a heck of a basketball player. We had depth at that position and that’s the only reason he wasn’t getting in, but I had a lot of confidence in his abilities,” Vogel said of Cook. “And he’s a 10 out of 10 culture fit with our group. Understands his role, and you need guys like that. When you’re filling out a roster you need guys that are willing to not play, but still stay ready to contribute when your number is called, and he exemplified that as well as you can.
“He did a great job for us and we certainly wish him well.”
But the Lakers didn’t say goodbye to as well-liked a teammate as you’ll find in the NBA because they’re happy with how they’re playing. They wished Cook well because, for all of Vogel’s platitudes, they want to improve their basketball team. Even if it isn’t yet clear how they’ll do so, at least they’ve made it clear they’re going to try.
Because the reality is that Cook was a friendship MVP. But as Kobe Bryant once said: “Friends can come and go, but banners hang forever.” It’s safe to say that his former agent and best friend, Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka, is well aware of that philosophy as he makes sure this team maximizes their chance to repeat.