The Houston Rockets plan to say goodbye to center DeMarcus Cousins in the coming days, according to a report by Shams Charania of the Athletic
Cousins signed a non-guaranteed minimum veterans contract with the Rockets in November, and that deal was fully guaranteed earlier this week, according to Adrian Wojnarowski from ESPN.com.
The decision to fully guarantee the deal appears to be a goodwill gesture from the Rockets, ahead of the decision to part with the six-foot tall man. According to Charania, the Rockets plan to move their frontcourt in a younger direction after a recent drop in the standings. Houston has lost a total of seven consecutive games, dropping them to 11-17 in the past year.
Cousins has regularly seen minutes for Houston this year, having missed most of the past two seasons with numerous serious leg injuries.
The 30-year-old center scores an average of 9.6 points and 7.6 rebounds in just 20.2 minutes per game. Hes appeared in 25 of Houstons’ 28 games this season with 11 starts in those games.
While it is possible that the Rockets are trying to find a trade for Cousins to a desired destination, it is more likely that the big man will just be released, allowing him to find a good match in free agency. Kevin OConnor of the Ringer reports that the Lakers will be one team with an interest in the big man.
Houston’s move could also be the start of a fire sale in the coming months with some of their seasoned talent able to sustain demand in the trade market. PJ Tucker and Victor Oladipo both expire, while a 32-year-old Eric Gordon can also be looked around if the team chooses to move in a younger direction on the wing.
Could the Celtics show interest in the big man?
Danny Ainge has been open about a desire to upgrade Bostons’ roster in the coming weeks, but doesn’t expect Cousins to be a likely target for Boston once he hits the open market. The Bostons frontcourt is already a bit of a logjam with Daniel Theis, Tristan Thompson and Rob Williams all playing big minutes in the center every night.
Cousins is a four-time All-Star, but there’s a reason the Rockets go beyond just his age. The big man shoots just 37 percent of the field this year, with much of his athletic ability diminishing after numerous leg injuries over the past two years. Houston’s defense was also inadequate with him on the field due to his lack of mobility. He bounces well but otherwise, his weaknesses guarding faster players and finishing around the edge sparkled with starting center Christian Wood being sidelined in Houston.
Cousins can boost a reserve frontcourt across the league that doesn’t have attractive options, but it’s hard to imagine he’s a major upgrade from options in the Bostons rotation. Since other parts of the Bostons roster need more attention from rock bottom (wings in particular), it’s hard to imagine Ainge leaving a player to bring in another center with a mediocre production.
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