Bulls sign free agent guard Daequan Cook

Updated 1/6/2013 9:35 PM
  • The Bulls have signed free agent Daequan Cook to a contract. Cook, a six-year NBA veteran at age 25, most recently played for Houston.

    The Bulls have signed free agent Daequan Cook to a contract. Cook, a six-year NBA veteran at age 25, most recently played for Houston. Associated Press/file

Shooting guard Daequan Cook said he didn't mind leaving Houston, because he wasn't going to get a chance to play much for the Rockets. Then he joined the Bulls.

Cook, 25, has been known as a 3-point shooting specialist during his six NBA seasons. He won the 3-point contest in 2009, but his career percentage from long range is a mundane .365.

The Bulls average just 4.5 made 3-pointers per game, last in the league. As a team, they shoot 34.7 percent from behind the arc. So, needless to say, 3-point shooting is not a strength.

"Everybody goes in a slump from time to time," Cook said Sunday after his first practice at the Berto Center. "I wasn't pinpointed on that. I just came over and figured out what team I could help the most."

What's not clear is how the Bulls will create playing time for Cook. Because he signed before Jan. 10, when all NBA contracts are fully guaranteed, he will be paid for the rest of the season.

The Bulls currently are splitting time at shooting guard between Richard Hamilton and Marco Belinelli. Jimmy Butler usually gets the call when there's a tough defensive assignment, and Luol Deng rarely leaves the floor.

So when is Cook going to play?

"Right now we're pretty much set with our rotation," coach Tom Thibodeau said. "You have to learn, get ready and you never know -- over the course of the season, you need everybody."

Thibodeau has hardly used long-range shooter Vladimir Radmanovic this season. So maybe Cook can help when the Bulls need a 3-point basket. Or maybe he's insurance in case the Bulls trade Hamilton before the Feb. 21 trade deadline.

By signing Cook, most of the Bulls' cap space is spoken for, and they could have a need for frontcourt depth down the road. For now, Cook figures to watch and learn.

Since spending one season at Ohio State, Cook has had a knack for landing on good teams. He started his pro career with three years in Miami, then spent the past two seasons with Oklahoma City. He has played in 40 playoff games and went to the Finals with the Thunder last season.

The 6-foot-5 guard moved to Houston in the James Harden trade and appeared in 16 games for the Rockets before being waived last week.

"He's got to come in, learn his teammates, learn the system and just get ready," Thibodeau said. "He's a pretty good team defender. I think he still can improve with his individual defense. We'll see where he is once he gets going a little bit.

"He's been around a little bit, so we know what he's capable of. He can come in and knock down a couple 3-point shots in a very short amount of time, so I think he complements the players we have."

Cook played with current Bulls Nate Robinson and Nazr Mohammad in Oklahoma City and drew a laugh when he mentioned Robinson has told him more about his new team.

That seems appropriate, since Robinson is one of the league's most avid talkers. "Being around Nate, that's one of the things you have to roll with," Cook said. "He's a great guy."

Dealing with Thibodeau's demanding defense and rigorous practices shouldn't be an issue, considering Cook's history.

"I played for Pat Riley, one of the best in the league, so I don't think he (Thibodeau) would be that much tougher than Pat," he said. "I'm just looking forward to having the opportunity to play for both of them."


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