The Los Angeles Lakers underwent massive roster turnover for a team that just won the championship in October. But even with the changes, the Lakers maintained some continuity by re-signing Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Quinn Cook, Jared Dudley, Markieff Morris and of course Anthony Davis.
Cook and Dudley did not play much during the 2019-20 season. However, they were fan favorites and popular within the locker room, helping hold players accountable and “starring in their roles.”
Cook was waived at the beginning of the offseason, but was eventually brought back on a much more team-friendly deal.
The young guard, who likely could have gotten more playing time on a different team, chose to return to L.A. and bypass the potential opportunity for a larger role. “You’ve got to buy into winning. That’s what happens when you’re on these teams,” Cook explained.
“There’s too much talent and some guys are not going to play. I’m comfortable with myself, I’m secure in myself to know I can play, the league knows I can play, my teammates know I can play.
“What I’ve done in the opportunities that I’ve had in my career — whether it be hitting big shots in the Finals, or Steph being out and I scored 20 (points) multiple games. I know what I can do.”
Most of all, Cook was appreciative to return to the team he rooted for growing up, playing alongside a superstar in LeBron James that he idolized. “My entire season last year was me processing that,” he said.
“Me being a super fan of a team and being a super fan of a player in ‘Bron, and him being my teammate and me being on that team, I literally used to dream that every single day when I was growing up.
“For me to manifest that and actually accomplish it was great. But I still have a lot to prove to myself and to this league. Last year was very motivating for me, just to see what it takes to be great in this league. Seeing Rondo and ‘Bron on an every day basis at that point guard spot, I thought I worked hard and was doing a lot. I had to take my stuff to another level.
“Obviously me getting waived, with the business, it was a lot more motivation as well. Me being very grateful to come back and them wanting me back, that meant a lot to me. It makes me feel special. I know how much coach believes in me, how much Rob, Kurt, Jeanie. So that meant a lot and I want to make them proud by being ready.”
Dudley preparing to mentor Dennis Schroder, Montrezl Harrell
Much like he did and will continue to do with Kyle Kuzma, Dudley has taken a liking to mentoring young and talented players. He simply wants to be a part of a winning culture, and a part of that is accepting your role.
Dudley has taken that in stride, and will use this season to mentor new Laker additions Dennis Schroder and Montrezl Harrell.
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