DeMarcus Cousins

And-Ones: Trade Deadline Preview, Rising Stars Game, IT, Boogie

With a month to go before the NBA’s March 25 trade deadline for 2020/21, Bobby Marks of ESPN (Insider link) supplies a very informative breakdown of what moves all 30 NBA clubs could be looking to make, plus which teams will be prioritizing the present over the future and vice versa.

Marks speculates that several interesting names could be available via trade this year, from valuable veteran forwards like P.J. Tucker, Thaddeus Young and Aaron Gordon to recent All-Star guards on big-money expiring deals like Victor Oladipo, DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry.

Here are more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • There will be no Rising Stars Game between rookies and sophomore pros this season at the March 7 All-Star Game in Atlanta, but the NBA will still name players to rosters on Wednesday, March 3, according to a league announcement. 20 first- and second-year players will be announced in total — 10 from the U.S. and 10 from international countries.
  • Howard Beck of Sports Illustrated takes a detailed look at the latest comeback attempt for free agent point guard Isaiah Thomas, who finally underwent a hip surgery last year to address an issue that had impacted his play since 2017. Beck contends that the 32-year-old, 5’9″ Thomas looked like his springier pre-injury self across two USA Basketball victories during a 2022 FIBA AmeriCup qualifier in San Juan, Puerto Rico last weekend. Thomas averaged 14 PPG and 2.5 APG during the contests.
  • After being waived by the Rockets earlier this week, center DeMarcus Cousins has cleared waivers to become an unrestricted free agent, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic (via Twitter). Houston apparently tried to trade Cousins, playing on a $1.62MM fully-guaranteed veteran’s minimum contract, to no avail.

Heat Interested In DeMarcus Cousins, Other Frontcourt Players

DeMarcus Cousins, who was released by the Rockets earlier this week, is one of several additions the Heat are considering for their frontcourt, a source tells Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. Cousins is expected to clear waivers at 5 pm Eastern Time on Thursday, making him a free agent.

Jackson’s source identifies four other players Miami is targeting if they become available. That group includes Spurs forward Rudy Gay, Kings forward Nemanja Bjelica and Rockets forward P.J. Tucker, The Heat are also monitoring Pistons forward Blake Griffin, but they wouldn’t take on his contract, which includes a $38.96MM player option for next season, and will only try to sign him if he is released.

Jackson adds that Miami’s front office is doing “due diligence” on all those players and it’s not clear who the preference is.

The most intriguing option may be Cousins, a six-time All-Star who tried to revive his career in Houston after back-to-back Achilles and ACL injuries. He averaged 9.6 points, 7.6 rebounds and 2.3 assists in 25 games for the Rockets and was most effective as a backup. His lack of mobility became a more pronounced issue when he was moved into the starting lineup after an injury to Christian Wood.

Miami tried to sign Cousins in 2019, Jackson notes, but he opted for the Lakers. Cousins is also expected to consider the Raptors, Celtics and Warriors, according to Jackson.

Jackson believes Gay would be used in the same role as Jae Crowder, who left Miami to sign with the Suns in November. It’s not certain that San Antonio wants to part with Gay, who makes $14.5MM on an expiring contract, but Jackson notes that an offer of Kelly Olynyk would work under the cap, as would the combination of Avery Bradley and Meyers Leonard, who is out for the season after shoulder surgery.

Western Notes: Porzingis, Mavs, Cousins, Mulder, Kings

The Mavericks have put on a full-court press in downplaying reports from Bleacher Report and SNY.tv suggesting that they’d gauged Kristaps Porzingis‘ potential value on the trade market. Team owner Mark Cuban sent messages to beat reporters on Tuesday denying that the team had discussed Porzingis with anyone and expressing displeasure with at least one of the anonymous quotes in the Bleacher Report story.

Additionally, as Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News reports, multiple other key members of the organization disputed the idea that Porzingis might be a trade candidate. Townsend says he was told that the “pat answer” president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson gives to teams asking the Mavs about trades is that Luka Doncic and Porzingis are off the table.

According to Townsend, he was also “emphatically” told that the Mavericks haven’t initiated discussions with any franchise about a Porzingis trade, and that when one team did inquire about the big man, “the answer was a quick no.”

When a team swiftly and emphatically denies a report about a rumored trade discussion, it’s sometimes the case that the report got some details wrong, or was altogether false. However, in this instance, multiple reputable reporters had similar stories, and the Mavs’ insistence that they’d never deign to consider a Porzingis trade feels a little over the top, given his injury history, his contract, and his good-but-not-great production.

While I don’t expect the Mavericks to actually trade Porzingis this season or even in the offseason, it’s not unreasonable to assume the team is doing some damage control here and won’t consider the former lottery pick completely off-limits going forward.

Here’s more from around the Western Conference:

  • Although the Mavericks have had on-and-off interest in DeMarcus Cousins for years and could use some rebounding help, Dallas isn’t considered a viable landing spot for the veteran center, who is currently on waivers, tweets Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News.
  • Warriors guard Mychal Mulder had been viewed as a candidate to be released today, before his full-season salary became guaranteed, but Anthony Slater of The Athletic (Twitter link) hears that Mulder isn’t going anywhere for now. The 26-year-old has another non-guaranteed season on his deal, so Golden State will retain some flexibility with him this offseason if he remains on the roster.
  • In spit of the Kings‘ eight-game losing streak and Tyrese Haliburton‘s increased production (17.1 PPG and 5.4 APG on .529/.485/.778 shooting in his last 11 games), head coach Luke Walton has no plans to change the starting lineup and insert the rookie guard, writes James Ham of NBC Sports California.

Rockets Notes: Cousins, Oladipo, Croom, Porter

The DeMarcus Cousins era in Houston formally came to an end on Tuesday, as the Rockets announced they’ve officially waived the veteran center.

Explaining the decision to release Cousins, general manager Rafael Stone said they’ve been “talking to him about this for a little while” and decided the time was right to allow him to pursue a new opportunity (link via Mark Berman of FOX 26 Houston). Stone added that Houston opted to guarantee Cousins’ full-season salary before parting ways with him because the team appreciated his work ethic and felt “that was the best way we could think of to say thank you.”

For John Wall, who played college ball with Cousins at Kentucky, teaming up with the veteran center in the NBA was something he’d looked forward to for a while, and he expressed some disappointment that it didn’t work out as they might’ve hoped.

Getting to play with him again was what we always wanted in the NBA,” Wall said, per Berman. “It didn’t last as long as we thought it would. The decision that was made is out of my hands. It’s up to the front office, whatever they feel is best for our team going forward.

“I think with his time here he did a hell of a job,” Wall continued. “I think he showed he could come back and play in this league, coming off of injuries. Hopefully he can get another job somewhere very soon…getting back to where he wants to be in this league.”

Here’s more on the Rockets:

  • Victor Oladipo (right foot strain) suffered a slight setback when he stepped on teammate Rodions Kurucs‘ foot during a practice, preventing him from returning to action on Monday, writes Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. Head coach Stephen Silas said he remains hopeful that Oladipo will be back “sooner rather than later.”
  • Emiliano Carchia of Sportando, who reported last month that the Rockets are looking to hire an executive in an assistant general manager-type role, identifies former Timberwolves executive Noah Croom as a candidate being considered for that position.
  • Kevin Porter has yet to make his Rockets debut since being acquired from Cleveland a month ago, but his new team has a vision for how it will use him, writes Kelly Iko of The Athletic. The Rockets, who plan to have Porter finish the G League season at the Walt Disney World bubble, expect to have him eventually assume a point guard role on the second unit, per Iko.

Rockets Waive DeMarcus Cousins

2:55pm: The Rockets have officially waived Cousins, according to Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle (Twitter link).


7:56am: The Rockets have decided to release veteran center DeMarcus Cousins, sources tell Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). Assuming he clears waivers, Cousins will become an unrestricted free agent and will be able to sign with any team.

Houston and Cousins’ representatives reportedly decided over the weekend to end the relationship, with the Rockets said to be going younger and smaller in their frontcourt. The team explored the trade market in an attempt to get something in return for the 30-year-old, but today’s update suggests there were no deals out there worth making.

While he had a few big games for the Rockets, Cousins – who is coming off a series of major leg injuries, including a torn ACL – hasn’t looked like his old All-Star self this season, averaging just 9.6 PPG and 7.6 RPG on 37.6% shooting in 25 games (20.2 MPG). His limited mobility also reduced his effectiveness on the defensive end.

In a show of good will, the Rockets guaranteed Cousins’ full-season salary last week, so any team mulling a waiver claim on the big man would have to be comfortable taking on his full $1.62MM cap hit. If he clears waivers and signs a new minimum-salary contract, that deal would only be worth a prorated portion of the veteran’s minimum, while Houston would carry $1.62MM in dead money.

Cousins should generate some interest around the NBA as a backup frontcourt scorer, but it’s unclear which team might emerge as his top suitor. Although the Lakers had him on their roster last season as he recovered from his ACL tear and will have two open roster spots, multiple people with knowledge of the situation said they don’t expect a reunion between L.A. and Cousins, according to Dan Woike and Broderick Turner of The Los Angeles Times.

Cousins reportedly has some interest in the Heat, but it remains to be seen how seriously Miami will reciprocate that interest.

Once Cousins officially hits waivers, the Rockets will have an open spot on their 15-man roster.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Pacific Notes: Curry, Wiseman, Looney, Cousins, Lakers, Robinson

The Warriors could have most of the regulars back in action on Tuesday against the Knicks. Stephen Curry missed Saturday’s loss to Charlotte but practiced on Monday and is expected to play Tuesday, according to ESPN’s Nick Friedell. Coach Steve Kerr also indicated big men James Wiseman and Kevon Looney could play after participating in the practice. Looney has been out since February 2 with an ankle sprain. Wiseman, the No. 2 pick in the draft, has been sidelined since January 30 with a wrist injury.

We have more from the Pacific Division:

  • Executives whom Heavy.com Sean Deveney spoke to believe that DeMarcus Cousins would be a bad fit for the Lakers. Cousins is being held out of action as Houston seeks to deal him. Cousins hasn’t shot it well this season and his diminished mobility makes him a liability on defense. The team also has limited salary available to add another player.
  • The absences of Anthony Davis and Dennis Schröder are taking a toll on the Lakers and the schedule isn’t helping, Jovan Buha of The Athletic notes. They had lost two straight heading into Monday’s game against Washington while struggling to find offensive answers. They also play four teams with winning records before the All-Star break.
  • Kings swingman Glenn Robinson III is not currently with the team due to personal reasons, James Ham of NBC Sports California tweets. Robinson has appeared in 23 games, averaging 5.3 PPG in 16.0 MPG. Sacramento must decide this week whether to fully guarantee Robinson’s $2MM contract.

Southwest Notes: Cousins, McDermott, Spurs, Pelicans

Although the Rockets and DeMarcus Cousins intend to amicably part ways, it’s possible the veteran center hasn’t played his last game for the team yet. Addressing the Cousins situation on Sunday, head coach Stephen Silas said the 30-year-old was still at practice and that the plan was to have him continue to start at center as long as he remains on Houston’s roster, per Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle.

Cousins’ representatives and the Rockets are working on a potential trade or release that would get the big man to a team of his choosing. Other players in similar situations, like Andre Drummond and Blake Griffin, are being held out of action while their teams look to finalize a resolution, but Silas’ comments indicated the Rockets aren’t necessarily committed to that same approach.

Still, Cousins’ availability in the coming days will hinge in large part on his health. He has been ruled out for Monday’s game due to a sore right heel and it’s safe to assume the Rockets will be very cautious with the big man as they explore the trade market in search of a potential deal.

Here’s more from around the Southwest:

  • With the Grizzlies‘ roster getting a little healthier, the team has sent two-way player Sean McDermott to the G League bubble, transferring him to the Memphis Hustle (Twitter link). McDermott has been a depth option on the wing for the Grizzlies this season, appearing in just eight games, so he’ll see more frequent playing time for the Hustle.
  • The Spurs also made a pair of G League transactions, announcing (via Twitter) that they’ve recalled guard Tre Jones and forward Luka Samanic from the Austin Spurs. Jones had been leading the G League with 9.7 assists per game, while Samanic ranked in the top six in the NBAGL in both PPG (21.8) and RPG (11.3).
  • The Pelicans continue to gradually increase the number of fans allowed at the Smoothie King Center, issuing a press release today confirming that capacity will increase to 2,700 as of Wednesday. New Orleans, whose previous capacity was 1,900 fans, hope to bump that number up to 4,000+ by season’s end.

Heat Notes: Nunn, Cousins, Iguodala, Front Office

The Heat have benefited from Kendrick Nunn‘s ability to stay ready, Khobi Price of The Sun Sentinel writes. Nunn poured in 27 points, five rebounds, three assists, two steals and one block in the team’s win over the Lakers on Saturday, making an impact on both ends of the court.

“I’m just in rhythm,” Nunn acknowledged. “I’m just in the flow of the game. Just being in the right position at the right time and just being hard to guard.”

The second-year guard also shot 10-of-14 from the field and 5-of-6 from deep in the outing, stepping up in the continued absence of Goran Dragic (ankle).

“We know what he’s capable of, especially on the offensive end,” teammate Jimmy Butler said of Nunn. “He’s been playing great defense too. He’s always ready and I give him props for that.”

There’s more out of Miami tonight:

  • Ira Winderman of The Sun Sentinel explores whether adding DeMarcus Cousins would make sense for the team. Cousins would likely serve as the club’s backup center with the chance to compete for a starting role, which in turn could make big man Kelly Olynyk more expendable in a potential trade for a starting power forward. The Heat have yet to replace versatile starter Jae Crowder, who left the team in free agency last offseason.
  • Winderman examines in a separate story whether the contracts of Nunn and Andre Iguodala could facilitate a trade before the March 25 deadline. Nunn has raised his trade value in recent weeks, while Iguodala is a former Finals MVP who could be added as a salary-filler in any deal.
  • Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald examines the team’s front office and some questionable decisions made prior to the 2020/21 season. Miami made an effort to preserve its salary-cap space for the summer of 2021 (and potentially pursue Giannis Antetokounmpo), choosing not to offer Crowder or Derrick Jones Jr. multiyear deals. Antetokounmpo announced a short time later that he’d sign a five-year, $228MM super-max contract extension to remain with the Bucks.

Latest On DeMarcus Cousins

DeMarcus Cousins‘ diminished mobility, brought on by back-to-back Achilles and ACL injuries, is behind the Rocketsdecision 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.

DeMarcus Cousins’ Time With Rockets About To End

The Rockets are planning to part ways with veteran center DeMarcus Cousins, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic.

Sources tell Charania that the team wants to utilize a smaller and younger approach in the frontcourt once Christian Wood returns from an ankle injury. Making a move now will give Cousins plenty of time to catch on with another team.

A report on Friday indicated that Houston would guarantee Cousins’ veteran-minimum contract for the rest of the season. That means any team that claims him off waivers would inherit the remaining portion of the $2.56MM deal.

Sources confirmed to Mark Berman of KRIV-TV in Houston that Cousins will be traded or waived in the next few days (Twitter link). The front office gave him the salary guarantee as a show of appreciation “for his professionalism and how he went about his business,” Berman adds.

Cousins joined the Rockets in training camp on a non-guaranteed contract, hoping to prove he could still be effective after three serious leg injuries. He appeared in 25 games, making 11 starts, and averaged 9.6 points and 7.6 rebounds while shooting 37.6% from the floor.

Several teams will likely be interested in adding the 30-year-old for the second half of the season. Cousins spent much of last year with the Lakers, although he wasn’t able to play because of an ACL injury, and continued to work out with the team after being waived in February. He played the previous season with the Warriors, who are short-handed in the middle after a recent run of injuries. The Nets, who have been looking for center help in free agency after parting with Jarrett Allen in the James Harden deal, also figure to be interested.