For a brief window in time, rumors surfaced that the Los Angeles Lakers were involved in trade talks for then-Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins. The front office (which at the time consisted of the since-deposed Mitch Kupchak and Jim Buss) reportedly had refused to include 2016 second-overall Brandon Ingram in any offers for Cousins.
That report from the time makes the latest nugget from Ramona Shelburne of ESPN’s opus on the Buss family dynamics all the more interesting. Shelburne wrote at length on the lack of communication between the front office and then-Lakers advisor Magic Johnson, a dysfunctional relationship that came to a head during the Lakers’ talks to acquire Cousins.
Shelburne reported that Kings general manager Vlade Divac attempted to contact Johnson about the trade, and that he referred Divac to Kupchak and Buss. When those three were talking, the names of a few of the Lakers’ recent lottery picks apparently came up (emphasis mine):
Jeanie Buss had previously instructed Kupchak and her brother that she was to be consulted if they discussed trades involving any of the Lakers' three recent lottery picks. The only word she got of the Lakers discussions with the Kings --which involved two of those three lottery picks -- came after Jim Buss called Jesse Buss and pressed him for a recommendation on an offer he said would quickly expire. Jesse Buss tried to text Jeanie Buss, but the deadline was fast approaching. Not long after, before Jeanie Buss or Johnson even knew about the Lakers' attempts, the Kings finalized the deal with the Pelicans.
So from that report it sounds like it wasn’t for a long window, but if the report is true, the Lakers involved two of the trio of D’Angelo Russell, Julius Randle and Brandon Ingram in their talks for Cousins. Given the numerous reports that Ingram was off the table, it seems fair to at least speculate (key word here, I am NOT reporting anything, janky NBA fake trade rumors websites) that the offer may have included Russell and Randle.
The counterpoint to that is that Randle and Russell is a better offer than the
bag of trash and Buddy Hield what the Kings ultimately got so it probably wasn’t on the table, but the easy rebuttal to that is that the Kings are crazy and their owner might think Buddy Hield is Stephen Curry or something.
Ultimately it’s a moot point since the deal didn’t get done and the Lakers have a new brain trust in their front office, but Johnson and new general manager Rob Pelinka may have a similar dilemma on their hands should they attempt to trade for Paul George this summer. We’ll have a better idea whether they value Randle, Russell and Ingram more or less than the last front office did then.
Harrison Faigen is co-host of the Locked on Lakers podcast (subscribe here), and you can follow him on Twitter at @hmfaigen.