Thunder re-sign SG Cook to two-year deal

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

run.

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

season.

”I’m looking forward to seeing that kind of progress and build

off that energy he had leaving the season last year, coming into

this year.”

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

good thing.”

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

either.

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.