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Cook seeks second season with Oklahoma City Thunder

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Associated Press
6/16/2011 6:14:27 PM
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OKLAHOMA CITY -- Daequan Cook wants to stick around for a second season with the Oklahoma City Thunder.

One of only two players in the Thunder's rotation who aren't under contract for next season, Cook is hoping to be back after showing what he can do off the bench late last season.

"I love it here. Great fans and I fit pretty good here," Cook said Thursday during an appearance at one of the Thunder's summer basketball camps for kids.

"I had a very good year and contributed to the team to the extent that the team let me out there," he said. "I feel pretty good about having the opportunity or getting the chance to be back here next year."

Cook was picked up in a trade last off-season with Miami and eventually moved into a reserve role for Oklahoma City on its way to the Western Conference finals. He averaged 5.6 points in 43 regular-season games last season, then appeared in all 17 of the Thunder's playoff games.

Cook impressed coach Scott Brooks and general manager Sam Presti by continuing to work during an early season stretch when he didn't play in 34 straight games. He had started the season 3 for 16 from three-point range, then brought in a shooting coach and put in extra work at a closed gym while trying to work his way back into the rotation.

"He's not a guy that got a ton of opportunity but was ready and prepared when that opportunity came about," Presti said after the Thunder got knocked out of the Western Conference finals by eventual NBA champion Dallas.

Cook averaged 6.4 points and shot 45 per cent from three-point range after returning to the rotation.

"What it really took was just me having the confidence in myself that I'm going to get an opportunity and that I need to be ready for the opportunity, more than anything," Cook said.

"God forbid players get injured or anything happen, but things like that happen and you've got to have players like myself who can step up and play that role, and that's what I did."

Cook stands to be a restricted free agent. If the Thunder extend him a qualifying offer in the next two weeks, they'll get the chance to match any offer from another team.

Cook said he'll remain in Oklahoma City to work out the next two weeks, then will figure out where he'll be after that. His timeline coincides with the NBA's collective bargaining agreement expiring, when a work stoppage would begin if no new deal is reached.

Instead of focusing on the labour situation, Cook said all he can do now is make himself a better player for whenever games resume.

"You never know when it's going to be over. You've always got to be ready," Cook said. "At the end of the day, it shouldn't change anything. Actually, it should make you work harder not knowing when it's going to be over with and knowing that you need to be in top shape to be ready to perform when it's over with."

Daequan Cook (Photo: Layne Murdoch/NBAE via Getty Images)

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(Photo: Layne Murdoch/NBAE via Getty Images)
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