The Los Angeles Lakers need some help in a big way. The defending NBA champions have gone on a losing streak since losing All-Star big man Anthony Davis, who will be out for the next few weeks.
But reinforcements could soon be arriving for the Lakers in the form of an old friend, who is set to part ways with his current team.
Meanwhile, the Kevin Durant-less Nets made some history out West, while the struggling Minnesota Timberwolves made some huge moves.
SBOTOP has rounded up all the biggest and most recent headlines around the league in one place, so read on below.
Rockets to release Cousins; Lakers interested
DeMarcus Cousins and the Houston Rockets are expected to part ways in the coming days, Shams Charania of The Athletic reports.
This major piece of NBA 2021 news comes just days after Houston guaranteed Cousins’ contract for the rest of the season. The Rockets reportedly want to focus on playing smaller with their younger players, which is why they are set to let Cousins go.
Cousins is finally back to playing on a consistent basis after three injury-hit years, but he has been unable to return to his previous All-Star level. He averaged 9.6 points, 7.6 rebounds and 2.4 assists in 25 games for the Rockets this season.
Amid the news of Cousins’ impending exit in Houston, The Ringer’s Kevin O’Conner reported that the Lakers would be interested in bringing the big man back for added depth with Anthony Davis sidelined with an Achilles injury.
Cousins signed for the Lakers in the summer of 2019 but did not play a single game that season after suffering an ACL injury.
The Lakers currently have Marc Gasol, Montrezl Harrell, and Markieff Morris in the frontcourt with Davis out.
Marcus Smart unlikely to return before All-Star break
Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart is hoping to return after the March 5-10 All-Star break as he continues to recover from a calf strain, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports.
Smart has been out since Jan. 30, and the Celtics have struggled in his absence; they have gone just 5-7 in the 12 games he has missed. That includes a disastrous 120-115 defeat to the New Orleans Pelicans, wherein Boston surrendered a 24-point lead and lost in overtime.
Celtics head coach Brad Stevens said Smart is travelling with the team and has been “going at a decent rate the last few days.” However, he stressed that he remains unsure when Smart will return.
Smart had been having a terrific year, averaging career highs in points (13.1), assists (6.1) and steals (1.8) before suffering his injury. He also is one of the team’s leaders and their tone-setter defensively.
Nets make franchise history with perfect road trip
The Brooklyn Nets don’t seem to be missing Kevin Durant all that much. Despite their superstar forward missing for the last four games, the Nets still swept their five-game West Coast road trip — their longest undefeated road trip in franchise history.
Their last two wins came against two of the top title favourites according to the NBA 2021 odds: the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers — albeit without Anthony Davis — and the LA Clippers, who finally had Kawhi Leonard and Paul George back after their recent injuries.
Kyrie Irving and James Harden have been leading the Nets amid Durant’s absence. Harden led the way with 37 points, 11 rebounds, and 7 assists in the win over the Clippers, while Irving added 28 points and eight assists.
Thanks to their winning streak, the Nets are now 20-12 on the season, just half a game behind the Philadelphia 76ers for the best record in the East.
Timberwolves make head coaching change
The Minnesota Timberwolves are set to hire Toronto Raptors assistant Chris Finch as their new head coach, replacing the departed Ryan Saunders, ESPN’s Wojnarowski reports.
The Timberwolves fired Saunders after their loss to the New York Knicks, dropping the team to a league-worst 7-24 record.
The Timberwolves have been beset by injuries to their star players this season. All-Star big man Karl-Anthony Towns missed most of the season due to Covid-19, and point guard D’Angelo Russell will miss 4-6 weeks after undergoing knee surgery.
The 34-year-old Saunders, the son of former Timberwolves head coach and President of Basketball Operations Flip Saunders, took over on an interim basis in January of 2019 after the firing of Tom Thibodeau. He got the job permanently last May, becoming the youngest full-time head coach in the league at age 33.
Saunders ends his two-year spell with the Timberwolves with a 43-94 record in 137 games in charge.
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