Eric Cooks admits it could be an awkward Christmas lunch in his household.
The Hawks assistant coach says he is disappointed but understanding after his son Xavier Cooks signed with rivals Sydney Kings on Wednesday afternoon.
The 24-year-old joins the Kings for the remainder of the 2019/20 season on a multi-year deal after being released by French team SIG Strasbourg. Xavier, a Wollongong junior, had trained with Illawarra in the lead-up to the announcement.
Eric has had a long-term association with the Hawks, both as a player and in coaching roles. His son Dominique also played a couple of seasons with Illawarra.
"Obviously I would have preferred Xavier to play here as well. But they make their own decisions and this decision he felt was right for him," Eric said.
"I dropped a few hints here and there [about joining the Hawks] but at the end of the day, he's got an agent so he handles most of that stuff. He obviously trusts him and basically follows his lead. Only time will tell, but I think part of it is being happy in your own skin. He made the decision so I think he's happy to be there.
"But I'm very proud of him. And being closer to home, and being closer to his mum and I, is a good thing."
Xavier is a highly-rated talent who was called up to the Australian Boomers squad for the FIBA World Cup in August. Unfortunately, his campaign was over before it began, after being diagnosed with a meniscus tear in his left knee.
During that period, Xavier got to know Boomers assistant coach Will Weaver, who is also the Kings coach.
"I think he would have helped us a lot in what we're doing," Eric said.
"I've got a lot of respect for Will. Xavier spent time with him with the Boomers and they hit it off... I think it was a match made for them."
The Hawks are still searching for a replacement for injured import Aaron Brooks, who tore his Achilles during a game last month.
General manager Mat Campbell told the Mercury this week the Hawks had recently come close to signing two imports which "fell over right at the real pointy end". Campbell said a recruit would have to "fit the group".
"I think Xavier would have helped us a lot in what we're doing," he said.
"There's more players out there, we're still in the hunt. You say you're close, but things happen the other way. I'd say we're in the ball park with a couple of players."
I think Xavier would have helped us a lot in what we're doing.Eric Cooks
Hawks centre AJ Ogilvy took to Twitter to have his say about the announcement on Wednesday, writing "Couldn't be happier" with an expressionless emoji. Xavier replied with "Haha, see you on New Year's Eve buddy" in reference to the sides facing off on January 31.
Ogilvy told the Mercury the tweet was intended to be a "jibe at him, a joke more than anything else".
"It is a bit disappointing, he'd been training with us all season. I was frustrated that I hadn't heard anything about it. It was an interesting way to tell us about it," he said.
"But it's part of the job. Guys have got to go where they can make the most money and get the best opportunity. I just thought there were better ways to handle it.
"He's definitely a talented player, that's why I hoped we'd sign him. I think he's one of those fringe NBA guys, who could be a Boomers star."
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