Finding love in a hopeless place

Zach Harper —  January 1, 2013 — Leave a comment

BrandonRoy

I hadn’t posted on the Brandon Roy news from earlier this past week because I didn’t really know what to say about it.

He’s looking for alternative methods to keep his comeback going. He was looking good practicing with the team and had a chance to play this past Saturday if his back-to-back practices went well. The problem was the back-to-back practices never happened. His knees didn’t allow it.

We can get into debating whether or not the signing was the correct move but I’m not sure what comes out of such a discussion. It was a low risk, medium reward type of deal. If he’s able to find a way to come back again (and I really hope he gets that chance), I think he’ll have a few moments in which he can provide a little spark to the team and the rest of his contributions will come from being a veteran voice in the locker room. If he can’t come back and has to retire again, I still think a name (even if he’s battered) choosing to sign with this team is just some nice credit for the organization to build around the league. It shows players want to come here, especially if Rubio comes back to full health (many players last season whispered about wanting to play with Rubio last season).

It can be looked at as another swing and a miss by Wolves’ management and it sort of is. But a move like this could have better long-term potential than many of us realize, and I refuse to believe you can have bad contracts on deals of two years or less. It’s a one year test to see if the guy fits and if not, it’s an expiring contract that can be moved at the trade deadline the next season. It’s financially responsible to give out those deals for guys you’re taking a risk on.

But the real point of this post isn’t about Brandon Roy right now. 

The Wolves could have a roster spot open really soon. If Roy is forced to retire without playing another second for the Wolves, his contract will be taken off of the salary cap as of January 8th if the team gets the career-ending injury exclusion. They most likely would be allowed to have that exclusion. That would put the team roughly $2 million under the salary cap. This would give them more than the one-year veteran’s minimum that they and most teams around the league can offer to free agents. If they had more than the veteran’s minimum weeks ago, they probably would have ended up with Mickael Pietrus instead of Josh Howard and now Lazar Hayward.

And a very alluring player just became available for the Wolves to possibly sign.

When the Wolves missed out on James Anderson and signed Lazar Hayward back to the team, the Houston Rockets picked up Anderson and in the process, cut Daequan Cook from their roster. He’s currently on waivers and won’t clear waivers until after Wednesday. Here are the rules for claiming a player off of waivers, via Larry Coon:

  • The team is far enough under the salary cap to fit the player’s entire salary.
  • The team has a Disabled Player exception for at least the player’s salary, and the player is on the last season of his contract.
  • The team has a trade exception for at least the player’s salary.
  • The player has a minimum salary contract.

The Wolves are not far enough under the salary cap to fit Cook’s salary. Even if they had magically received an injury exclusion for Brandon Roy if in some alternate universe in time to claim Cook off of waivers, they wouldn’t be far enough under the cap to assume his $3 million contract for this season. If the team wants to sign him, they have to wait for him to clear waivers and then negotiate a contract. If he isn’t picked up right away, the Wolves could benefit from a possible Roy retirement by getting the injury exclusion and then signing him for roughly $2 million. If they don’t want to wait and see on that possibility, they can hope Cook signs for the veteran’s minimum, since the Rockets still have to pay him $3 million for this season if he clears waivers.

Cook would be absolutely perfect for what this team needs. He’s a 3-point specialist who would thrive off the bench for the Wolves.

He’s a career 36.5% shooter from 3-point range and has two really good seasons from behind the arc. In 2008-09 with Miami, Cook made 38.7% of his 395 3-point attempts. In the 2010-11 season with the Thunder, he connected on 42.2% of his 154 attempts. He struggled from 3-point range in the lockout shortened season last year with just 34.6% from the field and is shooting 36.7% on 30 attempts this season. If you’ll notice, all of those scenarios in his range of what he might shoot for this team based on past performances are much higher than the 29.8% from 3-point range the Wolves are currently shooting.

Even if the Wolves don’t want to wait for Roy to find out if he can continue his comeback, Hayward is a non-guaranteed contract and could be waived without much penalty. This would free up the roster spot to bring cook in if he’s wanting to join the team.

60% of Cook’s career field goal attempts have been 3-point shots. He’s also made 39.8% (143-of-359) of his career corner 3-point shots. The Wolves are 24th in the NBA in corner 3-point shooting at 36.9%. Defensively, he’s mostly been solid over the last few seasons. According to Synergy Sports, he gave up 0.71 points per possession in 2009-10, 0.87 PPP in 2010-11, and 0.82 PPP in 2011-12. Anything under 0.90 is pretty good. Synergy defensive numbers are a perfect measurement of a player’s defensive ability, but he hasn’t been atrocious by any means.

In just 60 possessions this season, he gave up 1.02 PPP for the Rockets.

I have no idea how real of a possibility it is for the Wolves to acquire Daequan Cook, but he would be a welcome addition to a team that has been historically bad from 3-point range this season (I’ll have another update on the shooting breakdown soon).

Also, he once spilled drinks all over Kevin Durant’s family. He’s willing to do the dirty work!

Zach Harper

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