There was a time—not long ago, in fact—when speculation held around the NBA that the Lakers would be interested in giving center DeMarcus Cousins another shot on the roster. He wound up signing with the Rockets, of course, and the Lakers remade their center rotation with Marc Gasol and Montrezl Harrell.
On Sunday night in Houston, the Lakers got a close look at Cousins in his new digs and, well, that look got perhaps a little too close. First, Cousins was involved in an altercation with Lakers forward Markieff Morris in the paint late in the first quarter, which resulted in a technical foul and a flagrant foul (plus an ejection) for Morris, and a technical foul for Cousins.
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Less than three minutes later, Cousins delivered a hard, swatting foul on the head of Lakers star LeBron James. That earned Cousins a flagrant-2 foul and an ejection of his own.
Rockets Coach Supports Cousins Despite Lakers Ejection
Rockets coach Stephen Silas backed Cousins, at least when it came to the first technical foul for the Morris dust-up. On that play, Morris committed a hard foul on Rockets rookie Jae’Sean Tate, and Cousins responded by giving Morris a shove.
“I thought he was sticking up for his teammate,” Silas said in his postgame media session. “I support him 100%, he was sticking up for Jae’Sean, and he wasn’t going to allow anything to happen to his rookie. I think that’s admirable. … Him sticking up for his teammate shows a lot about who DeMarcus Cousins is.”
Cousins had six points and four rebounds in just eight minutes on Sunday against his old team. He has been off to a very slow start with the Rockets, averaging 5.8 points and 5.5 rebounds, shooting just 30.6% from the field.
To his credit, Cousins seemed to realize the error in the hard foul he delivered to James by immediately going to him and offering to help James up.
DeMarcus Cousins, Markieff Morris Have Odd Lakers Connection
There is some coincidence to the Cousins-Morris skirmish. Cousins was still on the Lakers’ roster in February 2020 when the team decided to pursue Morris, who had been released by the Pistons. Cousins was waived to make room for the Morris signing.
Cousins signed with the Lakers in the summer of 2019, after the team had added Anthony Davis in a trade. Cousins tore his ACL, though, shortly after signing with the team, which led to the Lakers taking a wise gamble on big man Dwight Howard, who helped the Lakers to a championship.
Speculation persisted after the league was put on hold because of the COVID-19 pandemic that Cousins would return to the Lakers when the league restarted. Cousins ultimately decided not to come back until the 2020-21 season, to focus on his rehab.
James was among the Lakers who were very supportive of Cousins during his rehab process, though Cousins never actually suited up for L.A.
As he said last February, when there was still a chance that the Lakers would get Cousins back:
We want to continue to stay optimistic about his health. We don’t want no setbacks, as he’s had before in the last couple years. But his health is most important, and if we can get Cuz anywhere back to what he was capable of doing a couple years ago, it’s a plus for us. But there’s no pressure on him. There’s no pressure on our ballclub to have him out there right away, or whenever that case may be. We want him to be healthy and have a great, clear mind and a great attitude, which he’s done since he’s gotten here.