On Wednesday night, DeMarcus Cousins teased the NBA by showing his potential. It was also a reminder of what the league didn't see nearly enough in the 2012-13 season.
Cousins scored a season-high 36 points, grabbed a career-high 22 rebounds and blocked three shots in the Kings' season finale, a 112-108 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers at Sleep Train Arena.
Cousins looked every bit the franchise player the Kings could build around. He will be eligible for a contract extension this offseason, and he'll want maximum money (five years, $80 million).
Whether Cousins gets that deal before next season from the Kings' new owners - be it in Sacramento or Seattle - or from a team that trades for him (such as Dallas) remains to be seen.
Cousins led the Kings in scoring (17.1 points) and rebounding (9.9) per game this season. Solid numbers, but down from his second season, when he averaged 18.1 points and 11.0 rebounds.
Cousins' goal at the beginning of the season was to make the All-Star team and be recognized as one of the best centers in the league. But his season became known more for run-ins with officials, his coach, opponents and a television analyst.
"The young man has a lot of potential, and we all know that," said Kings coach Keith Smart. "I think as he grows and matures, you'll see more and more nights like (Wednesday)."
Cousins said his performance in the season finale was for fans who "stuck with us through this season."
And the team's fans - regardless of the city - will be looking for more nights when he dominates around the basket on offense and defense.
If Cousins plays with positive fire and emotion - not the negative energy that leads to technicals and ejections - he's a max-contract player regardless of who owns the team.
Cousins, who will only be 23 when the 2013-14 season begins, said he needs to work on "everything" entering his fourth campaign.
"Just learn from my mistakes," Cousins said. "Really, that's what I try to do every season. Just go and bust my (butt) this offseason and try to come back better."
What to do with Cousins is one concern. But Tyreke Evans, the 2009-10 NBA Rookie of the Year, could leave as a free agent. The Kings also hold a team option on guard Isaiah Thomas.
In addition, Kings basketball president Geoff Petrie's future hangs in the balance. He is in the last season of his contract and coming off the seventh consecutive losing season in which the Kings missed the playoffs.
Smart has one year left on his contract, but the new owners could make big changes upon arrival.