Daequan Cook, seen here drowning a small child.
Stage 3: Signing Daequan the Chef.
After a truly God-awful final season with Miami, in which he had a true shooting percentage of only .422, Daequan Cook was salary dumped onto the Thunder, whereupon he stuck 208 points on that percentage. Cook is coming off of what is by far his best season, playing his way into the regular rotation and thriving as a tenth man during the Thunder's late season push. Doing little else but try hard defensively and take catch-and-shoot threes, Cook returned 5.6 points on 43.6% shooting, almost all of which came via his 42.2% three point shooting (Cook shot only 27 two pointers all season), fully embracing the bench scorer role he was created to fill.
There's two schools of thought here. The first school of thought suggests that, because a player did very well in his role, he is deserving of a bigger one. The second school states that, because a player did very well in his role, he is already in the perfect one for him.32 In my mind, Cook fits into the latter. Maybe there's scope for him to start somewhere, in the way that DeShawn Stevenson currently does (or did) for Dallas. But it relies upon a perfect set of circumstances, much like those recently33 enjoyed by Keith Bogans. And frankly, it is not necessary.
Cook's contract expires this month, and Oklahoma City can make him into a restricted free agent with a $3,126,764 qualifying offer. If they extend that offer, the Cook idea goes no further, because while there's no rule which states that Cook has to sign a contract that starts at an amount equal to or larger than that, it doesn't make sense for him to do so. If that were the case, he may as well accept the qualifying offer. Cook is not a $3 million player; useful as he is in his role, it's a small role. Cook never dribbles, not even employing the step-in that turns a three pointer into a long two any more. He defends the shooting guard spot fairly well, despite being slightly undersized, but that's it. He is a three point specialist who has only shot the three well in two of his four seasons thus far. Even his very good free throw stroke (84%) is nullified by how little he gets there (once every half an hour for his career). He turns only two tricks.
They're solid tricks, though, and OKC will likely look to retain him. It is not necessarily necessary they extend the qualifying offer or not, for extending the qualifying offer is not necessarily a necessary step to re-signing him. OKC can not extend the QO for fear of his accepting it, and still re-sign him anyway. If they choose to do this, it only makes sense for Chicago to chase Cook up to roughly the value of BAE money; that is to say, as-near-as-is two years and $4 million. Any amount greater than that becomes subject to the same criteria as did Stephen Jackson above, where overpayment becomes foolish considering the wealth of comparable options. There's no point paying Daequan Cook more than he is worth for the simple reason that he is Daequan Cook. If it comes to that, you may as well pursue Von Wafer, Maurice Evans, Roger Mason, Willie Green, or some other tenth man shooting guard type. You could also bring back Rasual Butler for the minimum, or try harder to get a higher calibre of player, such as Nick Young or Marcus Thornton. Put more contritely, Daequan the Chef isn't worth overpaying for. Considering his body of work to date, even the $4 million figure pushes the very upper limit of quite what he ought be paid. And this is especially true if OKC extends the qualifying offer.
For argument's sake, though, let's say they don't do that.