Kurtenbach: The Warriors are taking full advantage of one of the NBA’s best deals — with help from the rest of the league



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You can forgive second-year guard Quinn Cook if he started the Warriors’ game against the Charlotte Hornets a bit skittish — he hasn’t seen much first-quarter action in his short NBA career.

But on Wednesday, the Duke prospect was pressed into starting duty, replacing the injured Patrick McCaw, who would have been the replacement for the injured Stephen Curry, had he not injured his nose in Golden State’s last game.

With limited options at guard and with the desire to continue to play veteran Shaun Livingston with the Warriors’ second unit, Warriors coach Steve Kerr turned to Cook — who has spent most of the year playing with the Warriors’ minor league affiliate in Santa Cruz — to play 22 minutes Wednesday.

He didn’t start strong, but before the end of the first quarter, Cook was able to match his teammates’ rhythms and help the Warriors win 101-87.

Cook had eight points, three assists, three rebounds, and only one turnover Wednesday while chipping in some solid defense.

It was hardly a performance that jumped off the box score, and you didn’t exactly notice Cook all that often while he was on the court Wednesday.

The latter statement — that’s good. It showed that Cook, who is on his fourth NBA team since going undrafted in 2015, belongs in the NBA.

Frankly, it’s incredible that the Warriors have a player like Cook playing G-League minutes. Even before Wednesday, there was no doubt in my mind that Cook could be a viable second point guard in this league, just based off his limited time at the NBA level, both in the preseason and regular season — have you seen how poor backup point guard play is around the league?

The Cavs, for instance, would love to have a player like Cook. Charlotte would too.

And a rebuilding team? What was their excuse not to give a player who played four years at Duke and was a two-time D-League All-Star a shot to show he was worth all the hype he had coming out of high school as a five-star recruit?

If you can explain to me why the lowly Atlanta Hawks thought it prudent to cut Cook in the preseason, I’m all ears. Best of luck with the 27-year-old rookie out of Alabama-Huntsville, Josh Magette…

But because every other team in the NBA decided they weren’t interested in giving Cook a roster spot before the start of this season, the Warriors were able to use the NBA’s new two-way contract rules to sign him.

It’s a pretty sweet deal for the Warriors — they don’t have to guarantee Cook a full-time roster spot, but when a guard is out because rest or injury, they can call Cook up and trust him to provide quality minutes.

For a Warriors’ team with an established roster and next-to-no flexibility to make roster moves in-season, having a player like Cook on a two-way deal — which puts him two hours away when both Warriors teams are home — is a complete coup.

Just like how Jordan Bell was effectively purchased for $3.5 million — giving the cap-strapped Warriors a quality player on a team-friendly contract — the Warriors are fully capitalizing on one of the NBA’s best deals with Cook’s two-way contract. And again, with plenty of help from 29 other NBA teams.

I can’t get over it — how is this guy on a two-way deal?

“I don’t know,” Bob Myers told me last month. “I know that he’s right there on the cusp of being an NBA player, and probably will get there — we sure are happy to have him.”

Draymond Green was equally incredulous when I asked him that question a few weeks back:

“I see some of these dudes in the NBA and — I don’t know, man… You see some of these guys and I wonder how they’re in the NBA on a regular deal and Quinn’s not. It’s ridiculous to me, but to each his own. I’m going to keep my mouth closed…”

“To have someone like Quinn on a two-way is really good. I think he’s an NBA player for sure. I guess it’s good for our team, but I don’t understand it, at all.”

It is — absolutely and without question — good for the Warriors.

All it took was some foresight by the front office to recognize the Warriors’ big-man heavy roster, Cook’s ability, and the league’s new contract rules — and a lot of help from sleepwalking GMs around the league — to make it happen.

It’s hard to predict how often Cook will factor into the Warriors’ plans this season, but the two-way deal can already be considered a success, because on Wednesday, he proved what so many already believed: he belongs in the NBA.



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