DeMarcus Cousins will be looking for a new team after he and the Houston Rockets decided to mutually part ways on Saturday.
Shams Charania of The Athletic reported that the big man and Rockets will be parting ways “in coming days.” He says the Rockets wants to go smaller and younger in the frontcourt and would like to give Cousins the opportunity to land with another team.
The Houston Rockets and center DeMarcus Cousins are planning to part ways in coming days, sources tell @TheAthletic @Stadium. Houston wants to go smaller, younger in frontcourt when Christian Wood returns and this allows Cousins to find an opportunity elsewhere.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) February 20, 2021
After having his career derailed by a series of lower-body injuries, Cousins was finally healthy this season after inking a prove-it deal for the veteran’s minimum with the Rockets. He’s played in 25 games this season with 11 starts, averaging 20.2 minutes per game. He’s scoring 9.6 points per contest with 7.6 rebounds while hitting at a 33.6% clip from beyond the arc.
The decision comes with some curious timing, seeing that the Rockets fully guaranteed his $2.3 million contract for the rest of the season on Friday, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
The Houston Rockets have guaranteed center DeMarcus Cousins' $2.3M contract for the rest of the season, sources tell ESPN. Teams have until February 27 to make that decision on non-guaranteed deals.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) February 19, 2021
The move could have just been a show of good faith, with Cousins playing solid and Cousins is now free to sign with any team and the Rockets can develop younger players as they look to go smaller. Breakout 25-year-old big man Christian Wood is currently nursing an ankle injury.
Lakers Interested in Reunion With DeMarcus Cousins
Cousins will have suitors as a free agent and the Lakers are reportedly among the teams showing interest, per Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer.
Sources: The Lakers will be among the teams to pursue DeMarcus Cousins.
The market will be limited for Cousins, sources say. He has struggled this year after returning from multiple major injuries. But for LA or any team in need of big man depth, few options bring higher upside.
— Kevin O'Connor (@KevinOConnorNBA) February 20, 2021
The Lakers parted ways with Cousins last February, waiving the four-time all-star to make room for Markieff Morris. Cousins did not play a game for the Lakers before his release and had been rehabbing from a torn ACL he suffered this summer.
Despite not playing, Cousins made quite the impression on the Lakers as a locker room presence.
“DeMarcus has been here rehabbing and been a great member of this team behind the scenes that nobody gets to see because the only thing he can do is be a good teammate and travel, and show up to every game and have a good attitude,” Lakers guard Alex Caruso told Kyle Goon of the Southern California News Group last season. “And he’s done that and been one of the best teammates as far as just keeping everybody’s energy high and not too low.”
The Lakers even planned to give Cousins a championship ring for his contributions.
“It’s dope man, it’s dope. It just shows that my presence was appreciated in that locker room. I mean obviously I wasn’t able to step on the floor and perform with the guys, but I did do my part,” Cousins said. “My limited part with just providing for the locker room, providing knowledge to the younger guys and the guys that were in need of it. So I’m thankful for it.”
DeMarcus Cousins (@boogiecousins) on the @Lakers plans to present him with his NBA championship ring with his name inscribed on it when the #Rockets play there: “It’s dope man it’s dope. It just shows my presence was appreciated in that locker room..It’ll be a dope moment.” pic.twitter.com/RRlwhh7EoQ
— Mark Berman (@MarkBermanFox26) February 6, 2021
Lakers Would Welcome Big-Man Depth
The Lakers would welcome Cousins back, as they are in the market for a big man, especially with Anthony Davis sidelined. It might also do them a favor to see Cousins not sign with another contender like the Brooklyn Nets, who could use his services on a budget as well to go with Kyrie Irving, James Harden and Kevin Durant.
Davis will be out an estimated four weeks after suffering a calf strain and aggravating the Achilles tendinosis in his right leg last Sunday.
“We want to try to put this fully behind him and be conservative with it, just to make sure that it’s fully healed before he’s back,” Lakers head coach Frank Vogel told reporters.