Sydney Kings won't be distracted by Cooks' NBA deal
Sydney Kings forward Kouat Noi insists Xavier Cooks' impending move to the NBA will not distract the defending champions from the NBL championship series.
The league's newly minted MVP, 27-year-old Cooks is joining the Washington Wizards at the conclusion of the best-of-five series on a maiden NBA contract that expires at the end of next season.
The move comes after months of speculation the crafty 203cm forward could be the next Australian to follow players including Josh Giddey, Jack White and Jock Landale from the NBL to the NBA.
Interest in Cooks' future has only intensified since the Kings announced his move on Monday, and given the Wizards are yet to confirm his signing publicly it is likely to remain on the agenda as the NBL season reaches its climax.
But with the championship series against the New Zealand Breakers hanging in the balance at 1-1, Cooks is downplaying his NBA contract lest it distract the Kings.
"We've got two more wins to go and we've come this far," Cooks said.
"There's no point thinking about what comes next when we've fought so hard to be here."
Ahead of the third game of the series - to be played in Sydney on Friday - Cooks' strategy appeared to have rubbed off on his teammates.
"The championship is the only thing on our mind," Noi said.
"We're all very proud of Xavier for achieving his childhood dream but our main goal is to win the championship. I know he knows that too."
Noi joined the Kings from the Cairns Taipans this season and has become one of coach Chase Buford's favourite bench players.
When Cooks and fellow All-NBL First Team member Derrick Walton Jr left Sunday's game with leg injuries, Noi stepped up with 20 points from the bench - his highest tally for the season.
The Texas Christian University product said Cooks' new contract had helped light a path to the NBA from Australia.
"The NBL is the best league, I believe, outside of the NBA," Noi said.
"Whenever there's a chance for a guy in the NBL to make it to the big leagues, it gives me confidence.
"I strive for the NBA dream too, so in the upcoming years hopefully I'll be the next one to go."
Walton was able to run unencumbered by his sore quadricep at training on Wednesday and Cooks confirmed his own injured leg would be fine for the third game of the series.
"It feels good," Cooks said. "We didn't have a full competitive training (session) just to look after our bodies, but I did what I could."