It would be a stunning homecoming, but Hawks general manager Mat Campbell says Illawarra simply doesn't have room in its salary cap to make a play for newly minted free agent Xavier Cooks.
Cooks' sudden availability comes after being waived by Washington seven months after signing a four-year contract with the NBA franchise.
The Wollongong product averaged 3.8 points and 3.8 rebounds a game across ten NBA appearances, finishing with a 10-14 double-double in 35 minutes in the Wizards final outing of last season.
Cooks played significant minutes through the Summer League but has been waived prior to the start of the NBA regular season, leaving him with no shortage of options in the US, Europe or back home in Australia.
The FIBA-governed NBL could be an attractive landing place in the lead-up to the Paris Olympics next year. While the Kings are likely to have the major say should his future lie in the NBL, the 28-year-old sure to be on the radar of multiple clubs should he elect to return to Australia.
While he wasn't willing to entirely rule out a play at the former league MVP, Campbell said current circumstances wouldn't allow the move.
"The reality is we don't have cap space," Campbell said.
"Obviously Xavier Cooks is a local Illawarra junior, raised and played all his basketball here, and we would always like to see him in Hawks colours.
"As it stands this year, our roster is full and, salary cap-wise, we have no room to be able to put in a marquee player like Xavier.
"That said, I'm sure the Sydney Kings would have first say, and I'd expect him to get another opportunity in the NBA."
The cap squeeze has also ruled out plays for former Hawk Duop Reath - who was waived by Portland only to subsequently ink a two-way deal with the franchise - and Jack White, who's been waived by Denver.
While all three are Australian players, each would need to go on the club's cap as a local marquee and require a club to cut an import and pay significant luxury tax on what would certainly be among the most lucrative deals in the league.
With the Hawks currently 1-4, the addition of hometown hero Cooks would have been a Godsend on the PR and on-court front, but Campbell's "absolutely confident" the club has the roster to return to play-in calculations.
"I've seen enough already this year to say we've got enough talent," Campbell said.
"We've done some things right, we just haven't done it for four quarters. We were up six points going into three-quarter-time against Adelaide in Adelaide and the Next Star (Trentyn Flowers) goes off for 18 on the last quarter.
"We had opportunities in Sydney game, against Melbourne we were up with two minutes to go in the first half and we had those periods where they scored 12-0.
"The consistency right now just isn't there and it starts at the defensive end. Everyone knows how many points we're giving up.
"We need to be better defensively to be more consistent and give ourselves an opportunity to win games."
The 1-4 tally has ramped up pressure on coach Jacob Jackomas at a time when the screws are also being tightened on fellow second-year coaches CJ Bruton in Adelaide and John Rillie in Perth.
Campbell said it points to how difficult an initiation the NBL provides for young coaches.
"It's challenging for a veteran coach to come into our league and succeed," Campbell said.
"Finding that balance between getting the right talent on the floor to give you the best chance to win, versus not succumbing to the pressure of outside influences is always very difficult.
"It's very hard for a first-year coach to go through, it's very hard for a second-year coach, but the reality is it's professional sport. It's 'welcome to the big time' in that sense.
"Everyone's got their opinion on what the Hawks should be doing differently, what the coaching staff should be doing. At the end of the day, the only people who can control it are the coaches and players right now.
"If you asked all the players right now 'are you playing to your potential individually?' they would all say 'no. If we can find five guys that play up to their standard on the night, we will be more than competitive in games."
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