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Daequan Cook still staying in Oklahoma City, even if he's not playing for OKC

THUNDER – Free agent guard Daequan Cook remains open to the idea of returning to the Oklahoma City Thunder but is caught in lockout limbo.
BY JOHN ROHDE, Staff Writer, Published: September 28, 2011

No member of last year's Thunder team has spent more time in Oklahoma City during the NBA lockout than shooting guard Daequan Cook.

What makes this particularly interesting is the fact Cook no longer is on the Thunder roster. Not yet, anyway.

Cook is the only unsigned player from last year's Thunder roster. The 14 other players are under contract, including late-season signee Robert Vaden. Also unsigned is 2011 first-round draft choice Reggie Jackson of Boston College.

Cook is a restricted free agent and can sign with any team that offers him a contract, but no free agent or rookie can sign until the NBA's new collective bargaining agreement is finalized.

"This summer has been real tough for me," Cook said of being in double limbo with the lockout and free agency. "The good thing is I got to state my case during my exit meeting (on May 27) with (Thunder general manager) Sam Presti."

On June 27, three days before the league's previous CBA expired, the Thunder extended a qualifying offer to Cook believed to be worth $3,126,764.

Because Cook is a restricted free agent rather than unrestricted, the Thunder has the right match any team's offer in order to re-sign Cook.

Shortly after last season, Cook made clear his affection toward the Thunder.

"Like I've always said, I love it here. Who wouldn't?" Cook said during an appearance at the Thunder Youth Basketball Camp on June 16.

Approached Wednesday morning after a two-hour workout at Tru You Fitness in Bethany, Cook smiled and shared the same message.

"I've always loved this city, the fan base and all their support of the players," Cook said.

Wednesday's bargaining session between the league and the players' union was viewed as the most critical to date.

Cook admitted he worked off some nervous energy during his morning session. "Today is a very important day," Cook said. "We're hoping something can be solved, or we make another step forward."

Cook said he has followed CBA talks "very closely." He even has stayed apprised via the Thunder, thanks to e-mails from Nick Collison.

"We're all in this together," said Cook, who added he has been impressed with the solidarity of the players' union. "Even though we play for separate teams, at the end of the day we're all together."

Cook would have been foolish not to explore his options as a free agent. This is the expiration of his rookie contract and his first opportunity to test the market.

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