DeMarcus Cousins‘ diminished mobility, brought on by back-to-back Achilles and ACL injuries, is behind the Rockets‘ decision to cut ties with him in the next few days, according to Kelly Iko of The Athletic.
Cousins had been filling the role the team envisioned when it signed him, Iko adds, serving as a backup to starting center Christian Wood and spacing the offense while playing in short bursts. However, an ankle injury that has kept Wood off the court since February 4 pushed Cousins into a starting role that he wasn’t ready to handle.
Coach Stephen Silas is working to build a defensive identity in his first season in Houston, and Cousins’ inability to cover ground was getting in the way. With Cousins defending, opponents were shooting an incredible 63.4% on shots from six feet and closer.
Silas liked Cousins and the veteran presence he brought to the locker room, Iko writes. Several young players sought advice from him, especially rookie Jae’Sean Tate. But Cousins’ inability to handle more minutes convinced the team that it needs to go in a different direction at center.
There’s more on the Cousins situation:
- The Rockets will be forced to re-run last year’s small-ball experiment until Wood is ready to return, Iko notes in the same story. Justin Patton, who signed a two-way deal on Friday, could see some playing time, and Houston will consider the free agent market, with Dewayne Dedmon and Ersan Ilyasova as possibilities.
- The Lakers will be among the teams to pursue Cousins, sources tell Kevin O’Connor of the Ringer (Twitter link). He adds that sources expect the market for Cousins to be limited because of his struggles so far, but the 30-year-old offers significant upside for any team that needs depth in the frontcourt. Cousins signed with the Lakers last season, but wasn’t able to play because of an ACL injury.
- Cousins would consider joining the Heat if he reaches free agency, tweets Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press. A source confirms Cousins’ interest.
- The Raptors could use help at center, but Josh Lewenberg of TSN Sports doesn’t expect them to make a play for Cousins (Twitter link). He notes that Toronto opted to sign Aron Baynes and Alex Len during the offseason when Cousins was available.