Brian Cook has been through it plenty of times before, uprooted from his comfortable spot, shipped out and forced to quickly readjust. Cook was traded midseason for the third time in his nine-year career, and when the Los Angeles Clippers dealt him to the Wizards last week, he had to leave behind his family and three young sons.
The trade caught him “a little” by surprise and had him immediately thinking about taking control of his situation and possibly negotiating a buyout. The Wizards plan to utilize the young front court players on their roster and are open to accommodating him if he can find another destination, according to a source with knowledge of the team’s plans. Cook’s agent, Mark Bartelstein, is currently trying to find another spot. But in the meantime, Cook said he plans to make the best of his situation in Washington.
“We all look at playing for winning teams,” Cook said. “I’m just happy to be with the Washington Wizards. I’m glad that they wanted me and I know Ernie [Grunfeld]. I think he’s a great GM. I’m happy to help these guys. I’m just going to try to come in here, bring some veteran leadership and win some basketball games, hopefully. I know there are a lot of young guys on this team, I look forward to being around them.”
Cook said he found out about the trade only a few hours before the Clippers were set to host the Phoenix Suns. Though he was used sparingly, he didn’t expect to get moved and hadn’t heard his name mentioned in any rumors.
“It’s tough. But it’s just part of the business,” Cook said. “That’s what happens around the trade deadline and you’ve got to keep going, keep on working, keep your head high and keep grinding.”
Cook, the 24th pick of the 2003 draft, has career averages of 5.6 points and 2.7 rebounds and has also played for the Los Angeles Lakers, Orlando Magic and Houston Rockets. He is being reunited with two of his former teammates in Rashard Lewis and Maurice Evans and is also familiar with some of the other younger players on the Wizards.
“They’ve got a lot of young talent,” Cook said. “With John Wall, he’s a blur in the open court. he loves to get to the basket. I know he needs shooters around him and that’s what I do. Hopefully, I get out there and hit some shots. I’m happy to be here and playing a game I love.”
The Clippers used Cook sparingly this season as he battled an ankle injury and appeared in just 16 games, getting spot duty in those contests. He hadn’t played in more than three weeks when Coach Randy Wittman tossed him in against the Grizzlies on Sunday in Memphis. Cook didn’t hesitate to fire up four three-pointers, connecting on one that brought the Wizards within 78-75 in the fourth quarter.
“I was just happy to get in there and get some competition, because that’s what I’ve been missing for a couple of months,” said Cook, who is averaging just 1.9 points and 1.4 rebounds, and shooting 22.6 percent from field (12 for 53) and 19.4 percent from beyond the three-point line (6 of 31). “It felt good after my stint with the Clippers this year, I haven’t been playing much, playing 2½, 3 minutes, miss a couple of shots and get taken out. That’s why my shooting percentage was so low. That’s why it was good to get that ball to fall at that time.”
Whether he’s in Washington for another week or the final 22 games, Cook said he plans to give his all for the Wizards. Before the game against Memphis, Cook was on the floor taking jumpers and warming up with rookies and second-year players.
“I’m expecting to go in there and play hard and bust my tail and hopefully I’ll be able to help in the game,” Cook said. “With these guys, I want to come here, do the right things and show them that a guy with nine years is still doing the same thing as them.”