Just a day after guaranteeing center DeMarcus Cousins’ $2.3 million contract, the Houston Rockets soon plan to part ways with the former All-Star center, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic.
With Houston wanting to go smaller when big man Christian Wood returns from injury and give more opportunity to younger players, the 30-year-old Cousins will now be able to sign with a title contender of his choosing, perhaps the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers.
But beyond Cousins, who’s averaging 9.6 points and 7.6 rebounds per game this season, it could be a sign of other things to come for the 11-17 Rockets. If first-year general manager Rafael Stone and rookie head coach Stephen Silas indeed do plan on prioritizing youth five weeks after sending James Harden to Brooklyn, other veterans may be on their way out as well prior to the March 25 trade deadline.
Two that seem the most logical are guard Victor Oladipo and P.J. Tucker. Oladipo, a 28-year-old guard, is on the last year of a four-year, $85 million contract and was acquired from Indiana in the four-team Harden deal in exchange for Caris LeVert. He’s currently averaging 19.1 points, 5.2 rebounds and 4.6 assists per game for the Rockets (though he’s been injured since Feb. 11) and could bring back a first-round pick or young, more controllable assets to accelerate a Houston rebuild.
Tucker, a 35-year-old forward who’s played plenty of center in some of the Rockets’ patented small-ball lineups, is on the last year of his own four-year contract worth just under $32 million. Though he’s averaging just 4.7 points and 4.6 rebounds per game this season, he’d bring solid defense and strong shooting to a potential contender in a trade. He’d previously reportedly been upset about not receiving a contract extension in the past.