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Lakers' Russell Westbrook Parts Ways with Agent Thad Foucher amid Trade Rumors

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVJuly 16, 2022

AP Photo/Ashley Landis

Los Angeles Lakers point guard Russell Westbrook and longtime agent Thad Foucher parted ways Friday night.

Foucher told ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski the pair had "irreconcilable differences" about how Westbrook should handle the final season of his five-year, $206.8 million contract amid trade rumors.

"My belief is that this type of transaction only serves to diminish Russell's value and his best option is to stay with the Lakers, embrace the starting role and support that Darvin Ham publicly offered," Foucher said. "Russell is a first-ballot Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame player and will prove that again before he is retired."

Dan Woike of the Los Angeles Times reported Westbrook so far hasn't formally requested a trade from the Lakers.

The 2016-17 NBA MVP endured a forgettable first season in L.A. His on-court struggles—he ranked in a tie for 232nd out of 250 qualified players in FiveThirtyEight's WAR metric—led him to become the scapegoat as the star-studded team missed the playoffs.

Now the Lakers' front office, which is staring down the possibility LeBron James could hit the free-agent market next offseason, is under pressure to shake up the roster.

Trading Westbrook, either in a swap for another marquee name like Kyrie Irving or in a deal to create financial flexibility, is typically viewed as the most likely way to revitalize the squad.

Foucher told Wojnarowski the only options presented so far aren't in the best interest of the nine-time All-Star to retain his individual value.

"Now, with a possibility of a fourth trade in four years, the marketplace is telling the Lakers they must add additional value with Russell in any trade scenario," he said. "And even then, such a trade may require Russell to immediately move on from the new team via buyout."

Ham, who was hired by the Lakers as their new head coach in early June, has consistently expressed optimism about what the team can accomplish if Westbrook stays on the roster.

That continued during one of the team's NBA Summer League games on Sunday:

Yahoo Sports @YahooSports

"I'm excited as hell to have Russell Westbrook on our team."<br><br>Lakers HC Darvin Ham spoke on how he sees Russ fitting into his system. <br><br>(via <a href="https://twitter.com/NBATV?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@NBATV</a>)<a href="https://t.co/6bR0fLE3hz">pic.twitter.com/6bR0fLE3hz</a>

Keeping Westbrook seemed like a long shot when last season ended, but it becomes more possible with each passing day and every Ham remark about what he believes the team can accomplish merely by putting the 33-year-old UCLA product in better positions to succeed.

Once the two-time scoring champion finishes the process of changing agents, it'll be interesting to see whether that formal trade request arrives or if he's willing to stay with the Lakers if the right deal isn't found over the next few months.

Absent a blockbuster deal, L.A. would need much better health and a tremendous coaching job by Ham to make their way back toward championship contention in 2022-23.

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