SANTA CRUZ — The addition of two-way contracts has opened up some new possibilities for several NBA squads looking to stash and develop young prospects or keep serviceable backups in case of emergencies.

The Golden State Warriors have taken full advantage of the new deals.

They inked point guard Quinn Cook and rookie big man Chris Boucher to two-way contracts before the start of the season.

Both are expected to see plenty of action in the G League with the Santa Cruz Warriors this season and both are very different cases.

Cook, a 24-year-old now in his third season as a pro out of Duke, has already spent time with Golden State during the early season, being used as a reliable backup behind Stephen Curry and Shaun Livingston.

Meanwhile, Boucher, a 24-year-old who went undrafted out of Oregon this summer, is recovering from a torn ACL and has been given as much time as he needs to recover and develop.

While Cook will be used in spurts, Boucher might not ever see the court for either Golden State or Santa Cruz this season. And Warriors’ brass seems fine with that.

“It’s a little bit different than with Quinn,” said Santa Cruz General Manager Kent Lacob. “In [Boucher’s] case, it’s a good situational fit where, he’s going to need to work to improve on a lot of different things but there’s no rush on the process. We’re going to allow it to run its course and if he just focuses on improving day-by-day, getting healthy, we’re excited about going through that process with him.”

That’s the type of flexibility the two-way contracts allow. A player on a two-way can spend a maximum of 45 days with the NBA squad — the season is 170 days long. Players make the normal G League salary, which tops at out $75,000, during their time with their G League team and are compensated like an NBA player on an $815,615 minimum contract for every day they spend in the NBA.

In the best-case scenario, according to HoopsHype, a player could make roughly $280,000 on a two-way contract.

Last year’s G League All-Star Game M.V.P., Cook has already spent more than half a week with Golden State and played in one game, scoring one bucket against Memphis. He was with Golden State for Friday’s home game against Washington and was slated as the primary backup behind Curry with Livingston away from the team for personal reasons.

He figures to fill the same role as the season goes on so the use of the remaining days on his two-way deal will be somewhat of balancing act. The Warriors could very well sign Cook to a longterm deal, too.

“It’s a difficult thing that everyone’s figuring out the first year. How do you properly utilize a two-way?” Lacob said. “It’s going to work differently for every team depending on what their needs are. For us, we need a guy who can go into a game and produce and contribute when he’s up in Golden State. We’re going to need him when he’s up there but then he’s going to spend a lot of time down here, too. We want him to be fully integrated to both teams.”

Added Lacob: “It’s going to be fluid but he’s opened minded to everything.”

In Boucher’s case, the two-way deal allows him to be a part of Golden State without taking up a valuable roster spot. Two-way players also do not count against a team’s salary cap and cannot be signed away by another NBA squad, keeping Boucher out of the hands of the rest of the league while he develops into — the Warriors are hoping — a solid rotation player or even better.

“I think he knows that he’s raw still. He knows that he has some things that he needs to improve on and so this is a good setup for him,” Lacob said. “We’re in line with Golden State and Santa Cruz as far as his rehab and his return to play. We’re making sure that everything is covered in terms of doing everything the right way to get him back on the court and make sure that he’s healthy when he does get back on the court. That’s priority No. 1.”

Boucher, who was viewed as the best player of an Oregon squad that advanced to the NCAA Final Four and a first-round talent before the injury, said the deal has been reassuring.

“It feels great that they believe in you even though you got hurt,” Boucher said. “That’s big time for me. It just pushes me to work hard and come back. If they’re willing to put that much confidence in me, I have nothing to lose by working hard. It’s easier for me to feel comfortable being here and working hard to come back and be 100 percent.”

Of course, having Cook and, when healthy, Boucher bouncing back and forth from Golden State and Santa Cruz is expected to be somewhat jarring for both players and coaches. But Santa Cruz head coach Aaron Miles said the two-way deal would bring less surprising than assignment players have in the past.
He also said that unpredictability comes with the territory of being a head coach in the G League.

“At least with the two-way guys you know you’re going to have them for a certain amount of time, you just don’t know when,” Miles said. “Sometimes with assignment guys you don’t know if you’re going to have anybody and then you get a call and you’re going to have them down there and he hasn’t been with you at all to learn anything… [two-way players] able to get familiar with the guys. That’s a big part.”

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