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Should the Rockets create a roster spot for DeMarcus Cousins?

DeMarcus Cousins (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
DeMarcus Cousins (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
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With the news of the Los Angeles Lakers releasing six-time All-Star DeMarcus Cousins, it’s worth questioning whether the Houston Rockets should create a roster spot to add him.

Heading into the season the Los Angeles Lakers were expecting big things from DeMarcus Cousins, as they had been seeking to add a third star to pair with LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Granted, Cousins wasn’t exactly who they had in mind, but they ultimately were spurned in the Kawhi Leonard chase and ended up with the 29-year old center. Cousins was on the market for quite awhile, which prompted us to question whether the Houston Rockets should have pursued him at the time as well.

Cousins was supposed to relieve Anthony Davis from having to play center, which he admitted he didn’t want to do.

Lakers’ Anthony Davis: “I like playing the four, I’m not going to sugarcoat it. I don’t like playing the five.”

— Ben Golliver (@BenGolliver) July 13, 2019

Unfortunately for Davis and the Lakers, Cousins ultimately suffered a torn ACL, which prompted the Lakers to sign former Houston Rockets center Dwight Howard. Most assumed Cousins would be out for the season, however Lakers coach Frank Vogel has recently stated that Cousins could possibly be back in time for the playoffs. This was a surprise to many because a torn ACL is generally a season-ending injury.

On Friday the Lakers landed Markieff Morris from the buyout market, which prompted them to release Boogie Cousins shortly thereafter. With Cousins back on the market, should the Rockets be interested in his services?

Obviously the Rockets would have to have an assurance of Cousins being healed and available by the playoffs in order for him to even be considered an option. But if so, he presents an interesting option. Granted, the Rockets currently don’t have any roster spots available, but that would be easy to change, as they could simply release Chris Clemons, who has only played 15 minutes in the last nine games.

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Clemons also played in just 28 of the Rockets’ 55 games and has only averaged 8.8 minutes per game. From a financial standpoint, the Rockets are five million below the luxury tax threshold, so they could easily give Cousins a prorated minimum deal, which would cost them roughly $500,000 at this point. Clemons makes sense, as his $1.5 million he’s tentatively set to receive next season is non-guaranteed.

Obviously the Rockets employ a small-ball lineup so they don’t necessarily need Cousins to play a ton of minutes, but whenever they do need to play a big man, he presents a legitimate scoring threat. The 6-foot-11 Kentucky product has career averages of 21.2 points per game and 10.9 rebounds per game, which would both be of assistance to the Rockets.

The Rockets could certainly use his help on the boards, and he can create offense as well. Boogie averaged 5.4 assists per game during the 2017-18 season, and would immensely help the Rockets in that department. This would really come in handy, as none of the Rockets’ bigs possess this skillset.

On top of that, Cousins has shown the ability to shoot the trey, as he’s shot 35 percent or better from downtown in four of the last five seasons. In fact, Cousins shot 37.5 percent from behind the arc during the 2016-17 season, which provides a legitimate big who can hit the 3-pointer.

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This would add an element to the pick-and-roll offense, as he could either roll to the basket or step back for the triple. Cousins certainly can’t be relied upon as a defender, but the Rockets wouldn’t necessarily need him for that. Again, none of this will even matter if Cousins isn’t fully healthy, but if he is, it’s certainly worth the conversation.

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