On February 20th, Shams Charania of The Athletic broke the news that the Houston Rockets and DeMarcus Cousins had agreed to part ways. However, according to a report by Coty M. Davis of The Dream Shake, Cousins was a participant at Rockets’ practice today and when pressed, Stephen Silas said, that Cousins’ imminent departure were, “rumors.”
The initial announcement that Cousins and the Rockets were headed for a breakup came as a surprise. The Rockets’ frontcourt rotation is incredibly thin as they battle injuries and only a few days earlier the franchise had guaranteed the rest of Cousins’ salary.
What’s really going on with DeMarcus Cousins?
The question on everybody’s mind is, what is really going on here? First, Cousins gets his salary guaranteed, then he’s headed for an exit, now he is in practice and, presumably, a Rocket for the time being.
The most likely scenario is that all of these events are interconnected. To get an answer we need to start at the beginning with the news of Cousins’ salary becoming guaranteed.
How it started
When the Rockets guaranteed Cousins’ salary the move wasn’t intended to keep him around for the remainder of the season but rather to protect him in the event he was traded. By guaranteeing his salary the Rockets were assuring Cousins that he’ll see his full salary and if traded the acquiring team wouldn’t be able to cut him and not have to pay him.
Once the Rockets provided Cousins with financial security their next goal was to find a suitable trade partner. However, when the news broke that the Rockets were planning on moving on from Cousins it completely sapped his trade value.
How it’s going
Why would a team give up assets for a player that is headed for a buy-out or a release? To resuscitate Cousins’ trade value the Rockets asked Stephen Silas to come in and clean up their mess.
With Cousins in practice and saying that their intentions of moving on from him are, “rumors,” the Rockets are trying to get any interested parties to pony up an offer and not lose him for nothing. Perhaps the reports that the Rockets were planning on moving on from Cousins were simply rumors, but it looks more likely that an internal leak threw a wrench into their plans to trade or release him.
How it will end
NBA general managers are opportunistic and the news that Cousins was headed for a release gave them the opportunity they were looking for. As long it is reported that the Rockets plan to release Cousins if they can’t trade him then general managers have no incentive to make a deal.
The Rockets need to hope that another team blinks first and comes in with an offer for Cousins before the trade deadline. No matter how this plays out Cousins will receive his salary but it once again remains a question if and how he’ll depart the Rockets.