Rejuvenated in a new environment

Here's what a reunited John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins could look like for Rockets

If anything, this season will be interesting. Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

Wednesday night, the Houston Rockets acquired John Wall from the Washington Wizards in exchange for Russell Westbrook. The trade included a lottery protected 2023 draft pick, which is almost two-years from now. Wall also joins his childhood best friend and college teammate from the University of Kentucky, DeMarcus Cousins, who signed with the Rockets last week. Cousins and Wall have not been healthy in three years and have missed a serious amount of time.

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The four-time All-Star, Cousins, has not played a complete season since 2016-2017 when he was traded to the New Orleans Pelicans from the Sacramento Kings. In the 2017-2018 season with the Pelicans, Cousins was off to a ferocious start. Cousins averaged 25.2 points per game, 13 rebounds, 5.4 assists, shot 35.4 percent from the perimeter, and was efficient around mid-range shooting 53 percent. He became unstoppable inside the paint hitting 61 percent within the restricted area and 47 percent from the field. Cousins was on pace to become an All-Star again before his Achilles injury.

This injury became crucial for Cousins because it prevented him from getting a max-contract with the Pelicans the following season. The Pelicans gave Cousins a two-year 40 million-dollar offer which he declined. Cousins tested free agency and was recruited by the 2017-2018 champions, the Golden State Warriors.

Cousins played just 30 games with the Warriors but still averaged 16.3 points per game, 8.2 rebounds, but only shot 28 percent from the perimeter. Cousins wasn't as effective as he was in his previous years with the Kings and Pelicans. So, Cousins headed right back to free agency this time signing with the Lakers who became champions in the 2019-2020 season.

Before the season during a workout in Las Vegas, Cousins tour his ACL which caused him to miss the season. Midway through the year the Lakers released Cousins after signing Dwight Howard.

Hopefully, things are different with the Rockets after Cousins told the media at the press conference Thursday he was completely healthy. Cousins is great at stretching the floor, shooting from the perimeter, and being a dominant force inside the paint.

"Man, I feel incredible. Obviously, it was a tough task mentally, physically, but at the same time I was able to rest my body, a much-needed rest, as Cousins emphasized at the press conference Thursday. "Coming back off of that has been incredible. My body is in a great place, my mind is in a great place, and I'm just ready to get back on the floor and play basketball. Play the game I love."

DeMarcus Cousins IS BACK! Boogie Cousins Training For New NBA Season And Looking Better Than Ever Boogie Cousins is back!

John Wall's role on the team will be critical because he loves passing the ball which wasn't a strength for Westbrook. The only problem with Wall was the absence he had from basketball for two years. Second guessing the ability of Wall could be a mistake. Wall is a five-time All-Star and made the All-Defensive Second Team in the 2014-2015 season. Before Wall got hurt with the Wizards, in the 2018-2019 season, he averaged 20 points per game, 8.7 assists, and shot a career-high from mid-range of 50 percent.

John Wall Offseason Workout - 10/28/20 Here's a look at some of John Wall's offseason workouts.

Wall also shot a career-high 37 percent from the perimeter in the 2017-2018 season. He shoots the three-ball at 32.4 percent for a career average, which is better than Westbrook's 30 percent. Wall wants to become a better shooter from the perimeter this season, so he has been working on that during the offseason. He will become big factor on offense if he pays dividends from the perimeter. Wall mostly relied on his athleticism, which was his blazing speed and quickness like Westbrook. His playmaking skills are truly fun to watch as he averages 9.2 assists per game for his career. Hopefully, that Achilles injury is behind him and won't impact his play moving forward. Below are some takeaways from Adrian Wojnarowski.

Even though Wall has missed two years of basketball, he has worked his way back into shape. Kevin Durant was impressed with Wall's offseason in Miami. "He looked amazing to me. He looked great," Durant said during day one of Media Week. "I know he wants to go out there and play great basketball." Wall was seen with Harden and PJ Tucker during pickup games at Remy's Gym in Miami.

James Harden vs John Wall & Michael Beasley Insane Battle At RemyWorkouts Gym!


One surprising twist

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN confirmed that Wall and Harden want to play together in Houston. Both sides seem to be invested since there were early concerns that Harden could be upset with the acquisition of Wall. Harden reportedly preferred Wall to Westbrook this season, which on the surface seems odd because of their history as friends.

Hopefully, the Rockets get the past versions of Wall and Cousins if not better. Wall and Cousins both say they're completely healthy and anxious to play basketball again.

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The media has mixed feelings about the James Harden trade. Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

James Harden was 100-percent exactly right earlier this week when he said the Houston Rockets were "just not good enough."

How could they be? Not when their moody superstar scorer, who makes about half a million dollars per game, shows up chubby, looking like a kielbasa about to explode in the microwave. Hey, some people eat when they're unhappy, it's a defense mechanism. In Harden's case, the only defense he's exhibited this season. At least he had a good excuse for missing pre-season training camp and alienating his teammates - he was busy partying with Cinnamon and Cherish in Atlanta and Vegas without a mask. Worst of all, he went into the tank his last four games in a Rockets uniform, standing around, arms folded, scoring fewer than 20 points each time, all Rockets losses. Fans in the front row were asking him to move, he was blocking their view of players who cared about winning. James Harden sabotaged his own team, a team that offered him $50 million a year to stay. Something that crazy could only happen in professional sports these days.

There's a saying that drives the American labor movement: "a fair day's wage for a fair day's work." It's the motto of the American Federation of Labor. The National Basketball Players Association is not a member. Harden's sulking on the court, cheating the Rockets and their fans, was unforgivable.

Harden, sitting out games while somehow being on the court, forced the Rockets to trade him - and quick - to Brooklyn. The trade, when you ignore the fine print and unindicted co-conspirators Cleveland and Indiana, sent Harden to Brooklyn in exchange for Caris LeVert (immediately flipped for Victor Oladipo), Jarrett Allen, three first-round draft picks and four swapped first-rounders. It's true, when you trade a superstar, you never get back equal value. The other team wins.

If it makes Rockets fans feel any better, the media in New York already has problems with their new problem child. I should say newest problem child. Kyrie Irving plays for the Nets.

"They (the Nets) gave up everybody! There's nothing left now. I just want to cry, It's awful," weeped WFAN Radio talk host Evan Roberts. For those who don't subscribe to weekly Arbitron ratings reports, WFAN is the most powerful, top-rated sports talk station in the Apple.

"You're leading down the road of doom. Harden and Durant could be gone in a year and a half. I'm not convinced this gives them a better chance to win a title. I'm living a nightmare again. They better freaking win."

Circle March 3 on your Rockets schedule. That's when the Brooklyn Nets, with their Big 3 of Kevin Durant, James Harden and possibly Kyrie Irving visit Toyota Center. I hear talk radio salivating over the record jeers that will cascade over Harden's name, although I'm not buying it. Fans don't think like the media does. I'm thinking that Rockets fans will welcome Harden back - one night only - with cheers.

Toyota Center public address announcer Matt Thomas: "Usually when former Rockets come to town for the first time since leaving, I give them a positive introduction. It's up to the fans how to react."

James Harden spent eight seasons with the Rockets. He is a spectacular player who watched other NBA players engineer trades so they could compete for a title. Harden didn't think the Rockets were good enough, and he's right. So he wanted out. We've all been there, a job we didn't like for a company we didn't like, for a boss we didn't respect. Harden wanting to be traded is understandable. How he went about it was deplorable. He hurt his co-workers.

Houston will make Harden pay for his disrespectful departure. He has an upscale restaurant set to open here. The name of the steakhouse will be "13." Harden's business partners may want to change that number ... before the restaurant's telephone number is disconnected. There are plenty of other restaurants in Houston. Rich people who can afford steakhouse prices hold grudges.

Rockets fans searching for a silver lining say, "We got two decent players and a whole bunch of precious first-round picks" for a malcontent who would rather be anywhere (except maybe Sacramento) than Houston." Yes, a bunch of first-round picks does bode well for the future. Anywhere, except maybe Houston.

Houston's draft war room isn't the most successful operation in the NBA. Over the past decade prior to 2000, under the direction of general manager Daryl Morey, the Rockets made 16 draft picks. Not one of them is still in a Rockets uniform, many of them have sought employment outside of America, some outside of basketball. Among their first-round whiffs: Nikola Mirotic, Terrence Jones, Sam Dekker - all out of the league. Best of all, Royce White, who played three whole games in his NBA career and finished with a scoring average of 0.00 points per game.

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