Wizards Cook-ing up more frontcourt help?


Last season in an instant, Brian Cook went from playing for the playoffcontending Los Angeles Clippers to the lottery-bound Washington Wizards. That didnot exactly make the nine-year veteran a happy camper when he arrived in town,going from playing for something to simply playing for pride. As it turns out, the coastal switch wasn't so bad. Now, Cook is back formore, agreeing to a non-guaranteed contract with the Wizards. The formerUniversity of Illinois star becomes the 18th player on Washington's trainingcamp roster, the Washington Post reported.The 6-foot-9 forward averaged 3.1 points in 16 games for the Wizards lastseason after being acquired as part of the trading deadline maneuvers that alsoadded Nene to the roster while subtracting Nick Young and JaVale McGee. Thoughstill capable as a "stretch four" Cook's steady presence combined with the otherveterans helpedturn the locker room and on-court culture from clowning tocompeting. The Wizards closed the 2011-12 with a flourish, winning their finalsix games."I dont think well ever forget it," Cook said following thefinal weeks of the season. "We had a lot of guys that came in, 10-day guysthat came in and we all knew our strengths and weaknesses, and we just tried toplay hard and play the right way. Thats by sharing the ball and being a greatteam."The team appears better heading into the 2012-13 campaign, having addedcenter Emeka Okafor, forward Trevor Ariza and first-round pick Bradley Bealamong others to what remains a largely youthful squad. Should the Wizards successfullymake a playoff push and Cook be on the roster, it would be the formerUniversity of Illinois star's eighth postseason appearance."You always want to play in the playoffs. You always want to play forsomething," Cook said after the season, describing his reaction to thedeal that brought him to one of the worst teams in the league. "Like Isaid, that did come through my mind. Thats what I was mad about at firstbecause I knew the team I was on was going to go to the playoffs. But I had agreat month and a half here. These guys, theyre all really good guys. Theyreall competitors. They all competed, and hopefully Ill see them again sometimesoon."How long Cook will see the really good guys is another question. The Wizardsseemingly have only one roster spot available - and that's assuming the teamenters the season with a full 15-man roster. Cook joins other non-rosterinvitees -- center Earl Barron, forward Shavlik Randolph and guard Steven Gray --as part of the Wizards training camp roster. Washington opens camp early nextmonth.One could argue that even though the Wizards upgraded their outside shootingwith the addition of Beal, Martell Webster and by keeping Cartier Martin, theteam lacks a big man with range. Cook is a career 38 percent shooter frombeyond the arc, but that might not be enough to stick considering the frontcourtlogjam with nine players already in the mix for playing time.Then again, who would have guessed Cook's time in DC last season would be sowinning or that he would have enjoyed it so. Certainly at the time of the deal,not Cook himself.

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