The Los Angeles Lakers' young core of Julius Randle, Jordan Clarkson, and D'Angelo Russell did not have their strongest game in the Lakers 106-98 loss to the Sacramento Kings. Randle put up a double-double of 14 points and 11 rebounds, but suffered from the tunnel vision that has plagued him throughout most of his sophomore season. Clarkson and Russell fared even less well, going a combined 9-25 from the field and turning the ball over seven times.
Despite the struggles, Kings' star DeMarcus Cousins still thinks the Lakers have a bright future ahead of them.
"I love Julius' game," Cousins told assembled media after the game (via Bob Garcia of Sports Out West), "He's very talented, very versatile. The great thing about it, when he puts his game all together, he's going to be a problem in this league."
Cousins was also impressed with Clarkson and Russell, and preached patience with the trio as they continue to grow:
DeMarcus Cousins: "The whole young (Lakers) core is very talented. D'Angelo is coming along, Jordan is coming along. It's just about time."— Serena Winters (@SerenaWinters) March 16, 2016
DeMarcus Cousins: "It's a matter of time before it's clicking for all three of those guys (DA, JC, Randle). They're going to be a problem."— Serena Winters (@SerenaWinters) March 16, 2016
Somewhat ironically, if the Lakers front office decides they don't want to wait around for those three to become a problem, Cousins could be one of the players they move some combination of that young core for in an attempt to rebuild quickly. There continue to be rumors of discontent between Boogie and the only NBA franchise he has known, and the Lakers were heavily rumored to be in talks to acquire him before the 2015 NBA Draft.
The Kings and Lakers ultimately walked away from those talks, and other teams such as the Boston Celtics might be able to trump Los Angeles' theoretical offer. That being said, one should be surprised if Jim Buss and Mitch Kupchak ultimately circle back with Vlade Divac as the two attempt to build a team that can make it to the Western Conference Finals next year and meet Jim's self-imposed deadline for contention. A gutted Lakers team plus Cousins would not appear to be a recipe for making it that far, but perhaps his established talent would be enough to lure another free agent.
If the Lakers are able to retain one of those three while still acquiring Cousins, maybe he'll get a chance to team with some of the talent he is so impressed by.
All stats per NBA.com. You can follow this author on Twitter at @hmfaigen.