Xavier Cooks

Southeast Notes: Martin, Ball, Cooks, Murray

Cody Martin is doing his best to help the Hornets as a leader from the sidelines, but it’s not a role he enjoys, writes Roderick Boone of The Charlotte Observer. A troublesome left knee has limited Martin to seven games in his first season since signing a four-year, $31MM contract.

Martin’s injury problems began in training camp, Boone notes, and he was only able to suit up for one of the team’s five preseason games. Martin played just 56 seconds in the regular season opener and underwent arthroscopic surgery on November 11. He returned in early January after missing 37 games, but could only play six more times before being sidelined again.

“You never go into a season thinking something like this is going to happen,” Martin said. “You are not really ever prepared for it. It’s very, very frustrating. This is the first time I’ve ever had to sit out for an extended period of time. So I’m just trying to do my best to be positive mentally and just continue to do whatever I can rehab-wise and do what the training staff is saying. Unfortunately, it’s taken this long. I’m just trying to be smart with it, I’m just trying to be consistent with it, just do whatever I can.”

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • After undergoing ankle surgery three weeks ago, Hornets guard LaMelo Ball said he’s dedicated to rehab and plans to be 100% by the start of training camp, Boone tweets. Ball added that he still enjoys being in Charlotte, saying, “Yeah, I love it here.”
  • Fresh off winning an NBL title with the Sydney Kings, Xavier Cooks hopes to help the Wizards with their playoff push, per Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. The Australian forward signed with the team on Friday and made his NBA debut Saturday night. “It’s been a lifelong dream to get here,” Cooks said. “It’s taken me 27 years to get here. I’m, what, five years out of college? My dream is a little bit different than everybody else’s.”
  • Hawks guard Dejounte Murray feels like he got “closure” when Spurs fans gave him a warm reception in his return to San Antonio for Sunday’s game, tweets Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News. “I felt like it was what it should be,” Murray said. “We showed nothing but love, both sides, from myself, the fans, the organization.”

Wizards Sign Xavier Cooks To Multiyear Deal

MARCH 17: After leading the Sydney Kings to an NBL title, Cooks has officially signed his multiyear contract with the Wizards, the team announced today in a press release.

“We welcome Xavier to the Wizards organization as a very intelligent, high-energy player that will add athleticism to our squad while being a great teammate,” Wizards president/GM Tommy Sheppard said in a statement. “He left a lasting legacy in the NBL to pursue his dream to play in the NBA and we feel he will be an excellent addition now and in the future.”

According to Michael Scotto of HoopsHype (Twitter link), the Wizards used a portion of their mid-level exception to give Cooks a four-year, $6.1MM contract that is fully guaranteed through 2023/24. Cooks’ 2024/25 salary will be non-guaranteed and the Wizards will hold a team option for ’25/26.

MARCH 5: The Wizards have reached an agreement with forward Xavier Cooks that could keep him rostered through the 2023/24 season, his agent Daniel Moldovan informs Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. Exact terms of the deal have yet to be divulged.

Woj notes that Cooks, currently playing for the Sydney Kings of Australia’s National Basketball League, is the reigning NBL MVP. Cooks is in the midst of an NBL Finals series with Sydney. Woj adds that the 27-year-old will complete a contract buyout with the Kings and hop stateside once the Finals conclude, either this week or next.

The 6’8″ forward is averaging 16.2 PPG, 7.8 RPG, 4.2 APG, 0.6 BPG and 0.5 SPG for Sydney this season. He boasts shooting splits of .596/.333/.538.

The Australian-born Cooks played college stateside at Winthrop. He went undrafted in 2018, and had his first post-NCAA basketball experience with German club s.Oliver Würzburg in 2018/19 before joining the Kings the following year. He led the Kings to a title in 2022 and was named the NBL Grand Final MVP for his efforts. He has also been named to one All-NBL First Team honoree and one All-NBL Second Team.

As Josh Robbins of The Athletic (Twitter link) notes, current 10-day contract signee Jamaree Bouyea will come off the Wizards’ books by the time the NBL Finals end, opening up a spot on the 15-man roster for Cooks.

Southeast Notes: Porzingis, Cooks, Love, Carter

Wizards big man Kristaps Porzingis had perhaps the best offensive game of his career on Wednesday vs. Atlanta, scoring 43 points on 17-of-22 shooting. However, it wasn’t enough to hold off the Hawks, who pulled out a two-point comeback win in D.C.

As Ava Wallace of The Washington Post writes, Porzingis is one of two starting Wizards forwards – along with Kyle Kuzma – who can become free agents this offseason, and the team’s up-and-down play is a reminder that the way the rest of the season plays out could have a major impact on Washington’s future.

The franchise needs to assess the upside of its current big three (Porzingis, Kuzma, and Bradley Beal), while Porzingis and Kuzma will have to decide whether they believe the Wizards can become a contender. Porzingis, who has said that Washington’s performance the rest of this season will be a factor he considers as he weighs his future, wants to make sure the team’s effort level doesn’t wane in the next few weeks.

“What frustrates me the most is when we have been down or we’re not playing our best basketball and I don’t feel like we want it. I hate that. We were supposed to be the most hungry team out there, we haven’t done anything, we’re not even in the top-six playoff picture,” Porzingis said after a tight win over Detroit on Tuesday. “So I don’t like when we’re not hungry, that’s what bothers me the most. But if I see that, like the games we lost against Toronto and Milwaukee (on Saturday and Sunday)? I felt the hunger in us. I felt like we wanted it, we were going after it, we were fighting hard, it was a physical game — I can live with that. It’s only when we’re not fighting that it bothers me.”

Here’s more from around the Southeast:

  • Sam Vecenie and Josh Robbins of The Athletic take a closer look at Xavier Cooks, exploring what the 27-year-old forward will bring to the Wizards. Cooks, who has been starring for the Sydney Kings of the NBL, is expected to sign with Washington in the coming days. Vecenie praises Cooks for his passing ability and defensive versatility, but suggests that he’ll need to improve his outside shooting if he hopes to establish himself as an NBA rotation player.
  • After not playing at all during his last few weeks in Cleveland, Kevin Love has started his first seven games and averaged 22.2 minutes per night for the Heat. However, he’s not getting the results he hoped for so far, posting a shooting line of just .396/.242/.875, writes Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald. Nonetheless, head coach Erik Spoelstra still believes Love is a “great fit” for Miami’s starting five. “It’s a short period of time, but he really complements that starting group,” Spoelstra said.
  • Magic center Wendell Carter Jr. has missed three consecutive games due to left hip pain, but is optimistic about his chances of returning to action on Saturday vs. Miami, he tells Khobi Price of The Orlando Sentinel (subscriber-only link).

Six NBA Players On Australia’s World Cup Roster

Team Australia has formally announced its 12-man roster for the 2019 World Cup, and the group features six NBA players.

Aron Baynes (Suns), Joe Ingles (Jazz), Patty Mills (Spurs), Matthew Dellavedova (Cavaliers), and Jonah Bolden (Sixers) are part of the 12-man squad. So is former No. 1 pick Andrew Bogut, who is technically back under contract with the NBL’s Sydney Kings, but was part of the Warriors team that appeared in the NBA Finals this spring.

Australia’s roster is rounded out by NBL players Cameron Gliddon, Chris Goulding, Nathan Sobey, and Nicholas Kay, along with Jock Landale and Xavier Cooks. Landale currently plays for Lithuanian club Zalgiris Kaunas, while Cooks is a member of SIG Strasbourg in France.

Although Team Australia has a strong roster, there are no guarantees that the squad will make a deep run in next month’s event. The Boomers finds themselves in Group H, which features a handful of tough competitors — Lithuania, Canada, and Senegal. Only the top two teams will advance to the second round.

Raptors Hosting Free Agent Mini-Camp

As the Raptors‘ players and coaches focus on preparing for a potential NBA Finals close-out game in Oakland on Thursday night, the team’s front office will take a closer look at a number of veteran free agents over the next two days in Toronto.

According to a press release, the Raptors will host a free agent mini-camp at its practice facility on Wednesday and Thursday, with 23 players scheduled to attend.

Those players are as follows:

McLemore, Patton, and Payne – all former first-round picks – are perhaps the most well-known players on the list of participants, but they aren’t the only ones with some NBA experience. Artis, Brussino, Costello, Lofton, Thomas, and Weber have each appeared in at least one regular season game as well.

Draft Notes: Grizzlies, Magic, Nuggets, Gabriel

Teams near the top of the draft continue to explore trade options as Thursday approaches. The Grizzlies are one of those teams, as they continue to receive significant interest in scenarios that would see them send out Chandler Parsons along with the No. 4 pick, per Marc Stein of The New York Times (Twitter link). According to Stein, it seems clear that remaining in the lottery is crucial to the Grizzlies, who are believed to be taking more calls than they’re making.

Meanwhile, a couple spots down the draft order, the Magic are also having “exploratory” trade talks, president of basketball operations Jeff Weltman said on Monday.

“We’re having discussions above us and below us, but I wouldn’t comment more specifically than that,” Weltman said, according to Josh Robbins of The Orlando Sentinel. “It’s our job to explore every possible option, get to know the draft as well as we possibly can. And, obviously, the draft isn’t just about the draft. It’s about other roster moves that you could potentially look at as well. So there’s not a team we don’t talk to. There’s not a stone we don’t turn over.”

As Robbins notes, Weltman made similar comments leading up to last year’s draft. In that case, the Magic kept their lottery pick, but traded a couple of their other selections later in the draft.

Here’s more on the 2018 NBA draft:

  • The Nuggets‘ Monday workout with potential first-round pick Mitchell Robinson was canceled, according to an announcement from the team. No reason for the cancellation was provided.
  • Kentucky’s Wenyen Gabriel is working out for the Cavaliers today, then the Hornets on Tuesday, tweets Adam Zagoria of ZagsBlog.com. Gabriel is a candidate to be drafted in the second round.
  • The Warriors continued to take a closer look at prospects on Monday, bringing in Jeffrey Carroll (Oklahoma State), Xavier Cooks (Winthrop), Ben Emelogu (SMU), Melvin Frazier (Tulane), Terry Larrier (UConn), and William Lee (UAB) for workouts (Twitter link via Mark Medina of The San Jose Mercury News).
  • Kerem Kanter, the younger brother of NBA veteran Enes Kanter, was in Oklahoma City on Monday to work out for the Thunder, writes Erik Horne of The Oklahoman. The younger Kanter brother isn’t considered likely to be drafted.
  • Loyola-Chicago guard Donte Ingram is scheduled to work out for the Knicks on Tuesday, sources tell Ian Begley of ESPN.com.