The DeMarcus Cousins experiment with the Rockets appears to be over.
Cousins was thrust into a larger role when Christian Wood went down with a severely sprained ankle, and since then the Houston defense has come apart, leading to seven straight losses. Cousins’ lack of lateral mobility — coming off back-to-back ACL and Achilles injuries — proved to be a problem.
The Rockets and Cousins are moving on, in as amicable a parting as could be hoped for. Shams Charania of The Athletic broke the news.
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
Cousins averaged 9.6 points and 7.6 rebounds a game for Houston in more than 20 minutes a night. He also was good in the locker room by all reports, becoming a go-to guy for Houston’s young players with questions.
That may land him a spot with a team looking for veteran depth at center. The Lakers (with Anthony Davis out), Raptors, and Mavericks are possibilities. Other teams will inquire about Cousins as well.
However, those teams also realized that Houston’s defense got 7.2 points per 100 possessions worse when Wood went down and Cousins’ minutes ramped up. Cousins was never known as a great defender; he now lacks the lateral movement to stay in front of guards who face him on a switch or even mobile big men.
Houston has looked better playing small since Wood’s injury, and after a string of losses they are going to lean into small ball again in Houston. At least until Wood can get healthy.
Cousins is not part of that plan.