Early Tuesday afternoon, the New Orleans Pelicans announced that the organization has waived point guard Quinn Cook and Axel Toupane. This move was meant to help push the Pelicans below the luxury tax as both players were set to get pay raises on July 25th. Toupane’s contract would’ve increased from $25k to $200k while Cook would go from $25k to $100k, if they both weren’t released. Their removal puts New Orleans $2.4 million under the luxury tax, which gives the organization some breathing room.
It’s definitely tough to see both players get cut, as they stand as talented players that grew up in the G League, it’s definitely more surprising to see the team cut Cook. Before this move, it seemed like Cook was on his way towards potentially fighting for an opportunity to be their backup point guard. Just two weeks ago, Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry was basically as Cook’s right-hand man as the young guard was performing in Vegas Summer League. During that time, Cook said the following to the Advocate:
“It’s the biggest help, being able to talk to coach Gentry this whole time,” Cook said Wednesday. “He calls me over five times per quarter, and I ask him questions and he asks me questions and he has been so helpful to me since I’ve been in New Orleans. I just see myself getting better every day and ready to compete next season.”
Gentry’s support did wonders for Cook as he really stood out during his time in Vegas. During five Summer League games, Cook put up 21.2 points, 4.8 assists, 3.6 rebounds and 1.2 steals on 56% from the field and 50% from beyond the arc in 3.6 perimeter attempts per game.
Even when you look past Summer League, you see that Cook can still be productive. In nine regular season games with the Pelicans, Cook put 5.8 points and 1.6 assists per game with a 61% True Shooting Percentage. The highlight of that short stint was him putting up 22 points off the bench against the eventual NBA champion Golden State Warriors. Despite this being an extremely small sample size, it showed that Cook stands as someone that could fit in an NBA rotation.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like that will happen with the New Orleans Pelicans. While it’s possible for him to return to the Pelicans for training camp, it’s not likely. After adding former All-Star Rajon Rondo to their roster last week, the Pelicans now have five guards under roster: Rondo, Jrue Holiday, E’twaun Moore, Jordan Crawford and Frank Jackson. Luckily for Cook, it appears that some other NBA teams may be interested in snatching up the young guard.
Already hearing from some teams that they will consider claiming Quinn Cook on waivers. Min deal, so it does not require cap space to claim.— Keith Smith (@KeithSmithNBA) July 25, 2017
At this point in the off-season, where most NBA teams are either at or near the salary cap, it definitely would be a good idea for a squad to take a chance on Cook. Since he entered the G League in 2015-16, Cook has exhibited himself as a dynamic offensive weapon with the Canton Charge.
During his two seasons as a pro, Cook has shown that he can help a team out as a facilitator, mid-range shooter, penetrator and perimeter threat. During his two years as a pro, Cook has maintained a 59% True Shooting Percentage and 2.1 Ast/TO ratio, which are really solid averages for a player that’s been the #1 weapon for most of his pro career.
Obviously, Cook will probably never get a chance to have the same role that he did with the Canton Charge. However, that shouldn’t deter an NBA team as Cook could really be that prototypical 2nd unit weapon. As we’ve already said, he stands as a great offensive weapon that can score in a multitude of different ways while also being a solid facilitator. Although he’s not the best defensive player, I think his work on the offensive end makes up for those flaws.
Hopefully, some NBA organization can recognize how talented Quinn Cook is and give him an opportunity. Because as we’ve continued to see, Cook can absolutely flourish when you give him a shot.