Sydney Kings' Cooks takes 'last chance' for NBA deal

Sydney Kings star Xavier Cooks admits his new Washington deal has come at likely his last opportunity to realise a childhood dream of playing in the NBA.

Cooks, 27, will join the Wizards on a two-year contract at the conclusion of the Kings' ongoing NBL championship series and become the 11th Australian playing in the current NBA campaign.

The 203cm forward has been the form player of the NBL this season and earned league MVP honours for guiding the defending champions to a second-straight championship series.

The Kings announced Cooks' move to the NBA early Monday morning and the Wizards are expected to confirm it later this week.

Cooks' road to the NBA has been a long one. He was overlooked at the 2018 NBA draft despite an impressive college career at Winthrop University and couldn't parlay NBA Summer League stints in 2018 and 2019 into full-time deals.

But Cooks is now preparing to ship out to America a matter of days after the NBL season finishes, which could be as early as Sunday.

"It still seems so surreal," Cooks said.

"At such a young age, I put this dream of the NBA in my head and in Australia, it's so hard to achieve that.

"Especially when I was younger. At the time there was probably four people (Australians) in the NBA. I really thought it was something that was never going to happen.

"As you go on a little bit further, you go to college, you go to Summer League, you get a bit of a sniff for it.

"Maybe two years ago, I thought I had a pretty good year and really got no love (from NBA scouts) and I thought, 'You know what, it's going to be pretty tough to make it'.

"And then this last year has created a bit of traction and I thought, this is my last chance to give it a go. After this year, it's going to be pretty tough to bring a 28-year-old rookie over there.

"Luckily enough, they're bringing in a 27-year-old rookie."

Cooks learned of his maiden NBA contract while nursing an ankle injury in mid-February and first met Wizards general manager Tommy Sheppard and head coach Wes Unseld Jr on a Zoom call last week.

He won't know the specifics of his role with the Wizards (30-34) until he arrives in the USA but looks forward to taking the plunge into the NBA.

"(The Wizards) pretty much told me just to focus on the Sydney Kings," he said.

"Take care of business over here, and once we get over there, we'll cross that bridge.

"I know I'm a pretty confident basketball player but that's another beast over there. Even the slight differences in the rules and that kind of stuff ... it'll be interesting."

With just over a month to go in the regular season, the Wizards sit in 10th position on the Eastern Conference standings, putting them in line for the play-in tournament.

"I don't think their record represents how talented they are," Cooks said.

Cooks and Kings guard Derrick Walton Jr. are expected to return from minor leg injuries for the third game of the NBL championship series with the New Zealand Breakers on Friday night.

With the series evenly poised at 1-1, Cooks is asking his teammates not to focus on his impending move lest it distract from the task at hand.

"It's pretty important in my opinion to not really think about the future," he said.

"The reason why I've made it to the NBA is through the Kings and winning here."