Standing alongside the baseline of Kaiser Permanente Arena, Santa Cruz Warriors guard Quinn Cook has just finished a brief shootaround in anticipation of the nights game against the Rio Grande Vipers. As he catches up with Vipers guard Tony Wroten, his phone rings.
Youve got an hour to get your stuff, says the voice on the other end of the line.
Cook obliges, quickly traveling to his beachfront hotel to retrieve his bag, before making the trek over Highway 17 and up to Oakland for the Golden State Warriors contest against the Chicago Bulls.
Over the last year and a half, in multiple different locations around the map, the sequence has been a common occurrence for Cook. When the call came this week, however, in the wake of Stephen Currys sprained ankle, Cook had to travel a bit further for his next opportunity. He joined the Warriors in Charlotte to help Shaun Livingston and others shoulder the point guard load.
After signing a two-way deal with the Warriors in October, Cook has made two such trips between Oakland and Santa Cruz.
In spot duty with the NBAs Warriors, Cook has been serviceable, averaging 2.0 points, to go along with 1.7 assists in six minutes of action. However, his G-League stats leave little doubt of his ability, with averages of 25.1 points per game, to go along with 8.4 assists and 5.6 rebounds.
Cooks performance in the G-League has prompted praise from Warrior players like Draymond Green, who believe Cooks ability far exceeds that of the minor leagues.
You see some of these guys and I wonder why theyre on a regular deal in the NBA and Quinns not, Green said in a recent shootaround. Its pretty ridiculous to me.
Cooks current rank in the developmental league is a far cry from what the third-year guard envisioned coming out of Duke. During his four-year career, Cook was an All-American, becoming one of only seven players in school history to record 1,000 points and 500 assists, while guiding the Blue Devils to a national championship in 2015.
Cooks collegiate performance, combined with the feedback he received from the eleven teams he worked out for during the pre-draft process, gave the guard a good feeling going into the draft.
I thought I put myself in a good position, Cook said.
The rest of the league, however, saw an undersized point guard who struggled against skilled guards.
Cooks conundrum came full circle on draft night when not a single team called his name. From his Maryland home, surrounded by his mother, a set of close friends and his aunt, a fire began to creep in.
I thought about the draft every day growing up, Cook said. How would I react? What I would wear, just everything and being All-America in my senior year and winning the last championship at Duke I thought it was a no-brainer for me to get drafted, but it didnt happen and then so instead of me feeling sorry for myself it was actually motivating for me.
Cooks pilgrimage to the league has probably felt like a ride on the Boardwalks Giant Dipper. After winning the D-Leagues Rookie of the Year in 2015, Cook signed a non-guaranteed contract with the New Orleans Pelicans, who then cut him, sending him back to Canton. The next year, Cook signed a 10-day contract with the Dallas Mavericks, and finished out the season with the New Orleans Pelicans.
While Cooks journey has been anything but stable, theres been one constant throughout his ever-changing circumstances: his duffle bag.
The travel bag, usually tucked away close by in a Santa Cruz hotel, is packed with a set of three sweatsuits, two shirts, underwear, and a set of socks, just in case a call comes.
Cooks hope for stability in the league seemed to be coming to fruition when the Atlanta Hawks partially guaranteed a two-year deal in August. Cooks presence, along with fellow guards Dennis Schroder and Malcolm Delaney, was seen as a move to shore up the Hawks guard rotation. However, Cooks time on the roster was short as he was cut to open up a roster spot.
They had to let a guy go, Cook recalls. I was the guy and so it went from doing everything that I needed to do, to get myself to that point and all the work goes out the window.
A week before opening night, Cook was sitting in his Atlanta apartment when his agent called to tell him the Warriors were offering a two-way deal for the young guard.
I went from a real low point to the happiest guy in the world, Cook said. Being in summer league, out-playing draft picks, being in the G-League, killing guys on assignment, and then when I got my chance in the NBA I thought I played well.
During Cooks stint in Santa Cruz, many of the Warriors have taken turns keeping his spirit up. Green frequently sends texts of encouragement after Cooks games, while forward Andre Iguodala sends him bible verses. When Cook makes his trips up north for call-ups, he spurns the team-provided hotel in favor of the Oakland hillside estate of childhood friend Kevin Durant.
Im like their little brother, Cook said. Theyre trying to keep me feeling like Im a part of the team which is really, really cool, I really appreciate it.
While Cook continues to light up the G-League, his goal for next season remains crystal clear.
I want to be on a guaranteed contract on a fulltime 15-man NBA roster.