Less than three months after being reunited in Houston, former Kentucky stars John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins have been separated once more, as the Rockets agreed to part ways with the latter this week.
The reasoning? The franchise is looking to “go smaller, younger in (the) frontcourt when Christian Wood returns (from injury),” per Shams Charania of The Athletic, while also giving Cousins an opportunity to sign with a contender for the remainder of the season as the team begins its rebuild.
While the decision is probably best for both sides, it’s one that leaves Cousins’ now-two-time former teammate a bit down in the dumps, and understandably so.
“It’s tough. I understand it’s a business, but it’s very tough for me,” Wall said on ESPN’s The Jump on Tuesday. “That’s somebody I call my brother outside of basketball. Him being through injuries, me being through injuries, we’ve been going through the same thing, same as me. It was fun playing with him again, it was our first time playing together since college, we really wanted the opportunity to do that.”
Despite his own personal feelings about the situation, Wall hopes Cousins uses this opportunity to prove he still has a lot left in the tank and can be a contributor for a competing franchise.
“I know he’s probably glad he’s got an opportunity to show he’s back to being his old self, he can still play in the NBA. He’s not written off,” Wall said. “I wish him the best of luck, hope he can find a job here very soon.”
Through 25 games this season in Houston, Cousins averaged 9.4 points, 7.6 rebounds and 2.4 assists in 20.2 minutes per contest. As for Wall, the former Wildcat is averaging 20.2 points, 6.3 assists, 3.7 rebounds and 1.0 steals in 30.9 minutes per game for the Rockets.
The former Wildcat duo previously teamed up in Lexington back in 2009-10, helping lead Kentucky to a 35-3 final record en route to the Elite Eight. Following the standout debut campaigns, Wall was selected No. 1 overall by the Washington Wizards in the 2010 NBA Draft, while Cousins was taken No. 5 overall by the Sacramento Kings.
Wall and Cousins have combined for nine NBA All-Star appearances, with the former earning five (2014-2018) and the latter earning four (2015-2018).