“Through unfortunate situations come great opportunities,” veteran swingman Martell Webster said, using what could be the Wizards’ unofficial motto so far, with the team also without electrifying point guard John Wall.
The 6-9 Cook, a nine-year veteran, finished last season in Washington after arriving from the Los Angeles Clippers in the three-team trade involving Nick Young. He returned wanting to see some carryover from the end of last season, when the Wizards won eight of their final 10 games.
On Saturday, Cook, who Wittman calls, “Cookie,” played an instrumental role in the Wizards winning their first game of the preseason. He scored a team-high 14 points, made three three-pointers — including a shot from long distance with 51.1 seconds left that gave the Wizards the lead for good — and had an alley-oop layup off a pass from Jordan Crawford.
“My mentality over this last 10 years has been to stay ready. You never know what’s going to happen in this league,” said Cook, recalling the time he became Big 10 freshman of the year at Illinois after filling in for an injured upperclassman. “You don’t want that to happen, but that’s what this league is about. People stepping up when they are given their opportunity.”
The 6-10 Randolph is seeking a return to the NBA after playing last season in China. He had a team-high nine rebounds in 17 minutes, helping the Wizards battle back on the boards after Tristan Thompson and Anderson Varejao dominated in the first half.
“Since I kind of came into the NBA right out of Duke that has kind of been my role, to be a guy that has to stay ready and provide energy and rebounding, and hustling when I come in,” said Randolph, who led the Wizards in rebounding during summer league in Las Vegas. “Coming into training camp sometimes, not being a guy on a contract, your role is a little undefined. But for me, it’s pretty simple. It was the same.”
Wittman would rather get to see how his team will look when all of the pieces come together, but for now, he’ll settle for seeing what the rest of his team is made of.
“It’s not the best-case scenario, but at some point during the year, you always run through periods of time like this,” Wittman said. “It also gives me an idea of a guy that maybe sits for seven to 10 days and I’ll have confidence that he can do it the right way.”