The Houston Rockets have officially been eliminated from the NBA playoffs so Daryl Morey (and company) has apparently decided to focus on making sure Houston's D-League team -- the Rio Grande Valley Vipers -- is able to keep its playoff run alive for a little while longer.
In a move Ridiculous Upside has confirmed, the Rockets will call-up former Houston Cougar Marcus Cousin -- who played this season with the Austin Toros -- and assign him immediately to the Vipers. To make room for Cousin on Houston's roster, the team will release DeMarre Carroll. To make room on the team's D-League roster, the Rockets will recall the ineffective Hasheem Thabeet.
Cousin will sign a three-year non-guaranteed contract with the Rockets, according to the Houston Chronicle's Jonathan Feigen, after averaging 14.9 points, 8.6 rebounds just over one block in 46 games with the Toros this season. He earned a call-up to the Utah Jazz earlier this season as well, but the most memorable part of that stint was his checking in with a blank jersey.
It's a bit interesting that the Rockets would release Carroll considering that I still see some potential, but they obviously think that Cousin could be a bigger part of their future -- possibly even bigger than Thabeet (which I definitely wouldn't disagree with).
While Thabeet's rather raw, Cousin was probably the most polished post possibility in the D-League this season.
As I wrote last month, The big man is about as close as one will get to a traditional center from the D-League as Synergy Sports Technology shows that his top four offensive options are post-ups, cuts, offensive rebounds and being the roll man in pick-and-roll. The he relies on most is the jump hook but he has a good amount of post moves that he's relied on this season.
Defensively, Cousin is fundamentally sound in the low post despite the low number of blocks and steals. Where he struggles however, is when he's matched up with quicker players that can take him off the dribble (as Draft Express noted earlier this season).
Whatever happens, it at least proves that the Rockets' investment in its D-League team is paying dividends -- even if signing Cousin should have been a bit of a no-brainer to multiple NBA teams.
Cousin will likely make his Vipers debut on Tuesday night as Rio Grande Valley attempts to even its series with the Bakersfield Jam and continue its quest in repeating as D-League champions.