It’s been quite a back-and-forth in recent days for DeMarcus Cousins. Last Friday the Houston Rockets guaranteed his contract for the rest of the season. Then on Saturday, a report came that the two sides planned to part ways. Head coach Stephen Silas dismissed the situation as “just rumors at this point”, after Cousins exited Sunday’s practice early with a foot issue.
Cousins (right heel) ultimately did not play Monday night against the Chicago Bulls. On Tuesday morning, he was indeed released.
After a torn ACL cost him all of last season, Cousins was fairly productive for the Rockets. Over 25 games (11 starts), he averaged 9.6 points and 7.6 rebounds per game over 20 minutes game.
Cousins started his last seven games for the Rockets (three double-doubles in that span), with Christian Wood sidelined by an ankle injury. Wood is having a breakout season in his first season with the Rockets (22 points and 10.2 rebounds per game). So his place in the starting lineup is locked in when he’s healthy. Wood has started all 17 games he’s played this season. So it’s a misnomer that Cousins was benched for him. More accurately and harshly, it’s an oversight or an outright fabrication to say Wood took Cousins’ starting job.
Cousins has always been a weak link on the defensive end, with injuries and age to go with his indifference now. That makes him a textbook bench player, where he can bring offense to the table and ideally not be exposed too much defensively.
The Lakers are easy to tie to Cousins, since he spent last season with them while out injured. But they are apparently not interested in a reunion , as they start to look at outside options to add someone.
Cousins will have some suitors, with a list of nice possible landing spots even. This news he was unhappy being a backup in Houston is a bad look though. Let’s assume he’d prefer to sign with a contender. He’s not going to find a lot more playing time, let alone a starting job, anywhere he’d want to sign. But the “only contenders” angle might be a big assumption.
Cousins thinks he deserves to be a starter. To the point of truly inventing who he was benched for in Houston. Maybe there’s a team out there who will give him a chance to start, and something like 30 minutes per game. But it won’t be a team with real title aspirations, that much is certain.