CLEVELAND — All Quinn Cook wanted was another chance. And now, here he is, back in an NBA training camp.
The team is the Atlanta Hawks, the chance is something he already cherishes.
“Blessed and humbled just to get the opportunity,” Cook told Amico Hoops prior to the Hawks’ preseason game in Cleveland on Wednesday. “A lot of players don’t get opportunities like this. So any time I get one, I really try to take the time to appreciate it, to get better and help the team.”
Cook is a 6-foot-2 point guard who began his career with the Cavs. He went undrafted out of Duke in 2015. The Cavs invited him to camp, then sent him to the G League with the Canton Charge.
“Being in Cleveland first, then Canton, really helped take my game to another level,” he said.
“In Cleveland, I got to be around LeBron (James), JR (Smith), Richard Jefferson, and James Jones, and see how hard all those guys worked.”
Cook was named G League Rookie of the Year in his first season with the Charge. The next season, he was named All-Star Game MVP.
“Going down to Canton was a great experience, it drove me to get better every day,” he said. “I put up some big numbers and we were winning. It helped my confidence, being in a winning environment.”
He made his NBA debut in February when the Dallas Mavericks signed him to a 10-day deal. When that expired, he returned to the Charge — then eventually landed with the New Orleans Pelicans for the remainder of last season.
Cook inked a partially guaranteed two-year deal with the Hawks in August. The Hawks are still coached by Mike Budenholzer but have a new general manager in Travis Schlenk.
“I’ve never been a part of pickup games with this amount of intensity,” Cook said. “Coach Bud has been on us, and it’s been a tough camp, but a good environment.”
Cook, 24, has a good shot to stick behind starter Dennis Schroder and backup Malcolm Delaney.
All of Cook’s teammates with the Hawks, he said, have helped him get acclimated to his new city and surroundings.
“Ever since training camp started, I’m just trying to help wherever it’s needed,” he said. “I’ve been trying to be a leader. I’m actually one of the older young guys. It’s been going well so far. … We’re a young team, but I think we can be a special team.”
Along with being an up-and-coming floor leader, Cook is an intelligent and humble student of the game, and a fan of the game. So he was as surprised as anybody to hear another former Blue Devil, Kyrie Irving, had requested a trade (and eventually landed with the Boston Celtics).
“Yeah, definitely,” Cook said, laughing. “With the Cavs coming off another great year, I just thought everybody would stick around and keep playing for championships. But, you know, (Irving) just wanted something different.”
Cook continued smiling.
“It’s crazy how the NBA works, man. Stuff happens so fast,” he said. “But I think Cleveland will be just fine. I mean, Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder … and LeBron just keeps looking younger. So there’s been no drop-off for them at all. The Cavs will be right there again, right where they always are.”