Given how the past six months have gone, this chapter in the Houston Rockets season is not near the top of the most dramatic things to happen recently. However, it does contribute to a pattern of dysfunction that the Rockets appeared to put behind them, or so we thought.
With reports that the Rockets are releasing DeMarcus Cousins surfacing, there are a lot of variables that add up to form a giant mess that makes no sense.
The Houston Rockets are releasing DeMarcus Cousins, sources tell @TheAthletic @Stadium. This allows the four-time All-Star to find a team elsewhere and garner interest on the open market.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) February 23, 2021
Let’s take a trip down memory lane...
Friday: Rockets guarantee DeMarcus Cousins’ $2.3 million contract for the season.
The Houston Rockets have guaranteed center DeMarcus Cousins' $2.3M contract for the rest of the season, sources tell ESPN. Teams have until February 27 to make that decision on non-guaranteed deals.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) February 19, 2021
This was a move that surprised few people. Cousins played in 25 of the team’s 28 games and started 11, showing signs of gas still in the tank for the former four-time All-Star. Given how small Cousins’ contract was and the Rockets’ thin depth at center, the guarantee made sense.
Saturday: Rockets are releasing Cousins “in the coming days”
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
Just over 24 hours after guaranteeing his contract, it’s announced that the Rockets and Boogie are going to part ways soon. A huge surprise, considering the Rockets don’t have a strong history of showing signs of goodwill by their players, but given Cousins’ contributions, it felt warranted. Boogie has been a mixed bag in Houston. At times, he’ll show flashes of that former All-Star, but majority of the time, he will expose his major weakness: pick-and-roll defense, which makes him difficult to play for long periods of time.
With Wood’s absence, the Rockets have been forced to play Cousins for longer stretches, which restricts their abilities on the defensive end.
Sunday: Stephen Silas dismisses Cousins report as “rumors”
Stephen Silas says DeMarcus Cousins was at practice today and will be playing in tomorrow's game if healthy. Was dealing with foot problems today. Called the news surrounding Cousins potential departure "rumors."— Coty M. Davis (@CotyDavis_24) February 21, 2021
Words are far weaker than actions, but it’s rare for a coach to dispute a report from Shams or Woj. Why would Silas dispute the report if it weren’t true? Was he just looking to save face with Rockets media? It’s tough to tell, but nothing is official until the team makes a statement or the action is complete. Silas is far closer to the team than Shams, so it appears that the whole saga was a false alarm.
Monday: DeMarcus Cousins out with right heel soreness
#Rockets Injury/Status Report:— Alykhan Bijani (@Rockets_Insider) February 21, 2021
DeMarcus Cousins (Questionable – R Heel Soreness)
Exum (Out – R Calf Strain)
Victor Oladipo (Doubtful – R Foot Strain)
P.J. Tucker (Probable – L Quad Contusion)
Christian Wood (Out – R Ankle Sprain)
KJ Martin (G League)
Kevin Porter Jr. (G League)
Cousins sits for the first time since January 16. He is not seen at the game on the bench.
Victor Oladipo is on the bench as well. I do not see DeMarcus Cousins https://t.co/myfYYHuQiN— Adam Spolane (@AdamSpolane) February 23, 2021
Tuesday: DeMarcus Cousins released reports re-surface; Boogie “unhappy” playing behind Christian Wood
ESPN’s Tim MacMahon reports that Boogie wanted a new role as a starter, rather than a backup behind Christian Wood, one of the league’s premier big men.
This is where things get fishy again.
Boogie had started the past seven games for the Rockets prior to last night’s loss and was playing average at best for one of the bottom five teams in the NBA.
Where else in the NBA would he get an increased role? He’s also in the starting lineup replacing a player that has shown that he’s not coming back in the near future, so why is he this upset? Wasn’t he “super professional” about everything and that’s why his contract was guaranteed? Being upset that you’re not in the starting lineup doesn’t sound too professional to me.
When Boogie signed on with the Rockets, he knew he was going to backup Wood. He’s stated how he was comfortable and willing to do whatever it takes for Wood to succeed.
Cousins on possibly coming off the bench for the @HoustonRockets and being the 6th man #Rockets pic.twitter.com/EWI8p2xQCX— SportsTalk 790 (@SportsTalk790) December 9, 2020
Update: DeMarcus Cousins commented on an Instagram post, detailing that he was not unhappy being Christian Wood’s backup
Boogie says the report about him being unhappy about being the backup center to Christian wood from Tim MacMahon is a “got damn lie” pic.twitter.com/r7nGzIjNuW— Adam Abramson (@Adam_Abramson1) February 23, 2021
Times change, and the team looks very different compared to the team Boogie joined back in December.
Cousins has had one of the most bizarre careers in recent memory and his 25-game tour in Houston is just another chapter.
If he wants out of Houston to go to a contender, that’s understandable. He’s shown in the past his desire to play for championship contenders for small sums of money. Houston is far from that contender status. However, if he wants to go elsewhere for more playing time, he might not find what he’s looking for.