Demarcus Cousins’ future remains uncertain

Cousins’ time with the Houston Rockets ends, a sign he may not return to any NBA teams


Cousins at the rim while playing against the Sacramento Kings.

Conor Robbins, Contributing Writer

The Houston Rockets waived center Demarcus Cousins on Feb. 23 in an effort to promote floor spacing and continue to enhance a small ball pedigree that had been a hallmark of the franchise throughout Mike D’antoni’s tenure.

Cousins, who suffered a torn ACL in the 2019 offseason, had stints of productivity as a backup big on an overhauled Houston roster. However, his back-to-basket style of play, slow legs on defense and 33 percent clip from beyond the arc have left the four-time all-star without a home for the second time in two seasons.

Meanwhile, the surprising play of Most Improved Player of the Year candidate Christian Wood has provided Rocket’s management with the necessary confidence to undergo a full rebuild and youth movement following the departure of James Harden to the Brooklyn Nets in January. Cousins quickly became a necessary casualty of this process, as Wood quickly proved to be the younger and more versatile of the two centers.

It’s not all cloudy skies for “Boogie” however, as many playoff contenders are likely to pursue the veteran’s services as a means of filling the increasingly important role of the “glue guy,” an important roster player, as we enter the stretch run of a coronavirus shortened season where depth and dependability are more important than ever.

NBA media and blog boys alike have had a grand time speculating about Cousins’ next destination. Could a reunion be in order with the likes of the Golden State Warriors or Los Angeles Lakers? Could the big man look to elevate a middling playoff contender such as the New York Knicks or Charlotte Hornets? Or does Boogie chase that elusive ring one last time with the likes of the Brooklyn Nets, Miami Heat or Los Angeles Clippers?

At 30 years old, Cousins is justifiably removed from his days of producing at an All-NBA level following achilles and ACL injuries in quick succession. The perseverance of the 11-year veteran to continue to recover and compete at the highest level demonstrates a passion for the game that has allowed him to garner so much success. However, Cousins’ next destination may provide him with his toughest test yet.

Less than four years ago, Cousins was considered one of the best players in the entire league. Now, the free-agent runs the risk of becoming a dinosaur in a modern NBA where the center position demands a player who can stretch the floor and also enforce on the inside. Look no further than 26-year-old centers Joel Embiid and Nikola Jokic, who are battling night in and night out with their fast pace and floor-stretching abilities to become the first centers to win league MVP since Shaquille O’Neal in 2000.

Will Cousins join a graveyard of young centers, such as Roy Hibbert and Andrew Bynum, who couldn’t live up to their All-NBA play, or does one of the toughest guys that this generation has ever seen still have one more punch left in him?