All-Stars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook will be surrounded
by all the usual suspects as the Oklahoma City Thunder try to
follow a trip to the conference finals with another deep playoff
The Thunder have locked up the final missing piece from last
season’s 10-man rotation, agreeing Friday to a two-year, $6.5
million deal with guard Daequan Cook. Mike Conley Sr., Cook’s
agent, told The Associated Press that Cook’s deal was awaiting
league approval but he expects Cook to report to training camp as
soon as he’s allowed.
”I’m happy for him, first of all. To have him back on our team
is big,” Durant said. ”A guy that worked so hard this summer. His
role for us last year kind of grew toward the end of the
”I’m looking forward to seeing that kind of progress and build
off that energy he had leaving the season last year, coming into
With Cook coming back, the Thunder are in an even stronger
position entering a condensed training camp and regular season.
They go two deep at every position, with everyone experienced in
their role from last season.
While some teams had to open camp with only a partial roster
because transactions were on hold during the lockout, the Thunder
started out with 12 regulars on the floor plus training camp
invitees Marcus Dove, Anthony Goods and Terrence Roberts.
”It’s very important. With the season we had last year and
everybody’s coming back, our team is here and everybody knows what
we need to do,” Westbrook said. ”I think it’s important for
everybody to be here on the first day of training camp, so it’s a
Nate Robinson, who seldom played after coming over in a trade
deadline deal last season and isn’t expected to remain with the
Thunder this season, was absent as planned. Cook also wasn’t
allowed to participate since his deal wasn’t finalized yet, and
unsigned first-round draft pick Reggie Jackson couldn’t practice
The rest were right back in their comfort zone, albeit in a
brand new practice facility instead of their old one.
”Chemistry is a big part of winning,” Durant said. ”If we
continue to grow as a group, we didn’t make any really, really big
changes, we stayed together, built with young guys and everybody’s
coming together pretty fine.”
After being eliminated by Dallas in the West finals, the only
players in the regular rotation that weren’t under contract were
backup center Nazr Mohammed and Cook. Mohammed signed just before
the lockout began, and Cook also got a qualifying offer in late
June – a precursor to actually getting a deal done.
His re-signing was first reported by Yahoo Sports.
”Daequan’s excited,” Conley said. ”He wanted to be back
there. They wanted him back.”
Cook averaged 5.6 points and shot 42 percent from 3-point range
in 43 games for the Thunder last season after being acquired in a
trade from Miami. He had a slow start to the season and was benched
for 34 games but hired his own shooting coach to put in extra work
and eventually earned a spot in Oklahoma City’s rotation.
After he got a chance to play again, he averaged 6.4 points and
shot 45 percent from 3-point range. He played in all 17 of the
Thunder’s postseason games.
”It wasn’t always easy. He had his tough times,” Conley said.
”He had some adversity there in the beginning, addressed it and
showed them he was committed.”
Cook said in June he hoped to return: ”I love it here. Great
fans and I fit pretty good here.”
”What it really took was just me having the confidence in
myself that I’m going to get an opportunity and that I need to be
ready for the opportunity, more than anything,” he said then.