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Lakers Rumors: Russell Westbrook Urged by Multiple People to Accept Role Last Season

Adam WellsJuly 24, 2022

Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Amid recent comments from his former agent about needing to accept a different role for the benefit of his career, Los Angeles Lakers guard Russell Westbrook apparently had several people trying to get him to change his game during the 2021-22 season.

On the latest episode of The Hoop Collective (h/t RealGM.com), ESPN's Brian Windhorst noted the Lakers tried to use everyone they could to get through to Westbrook.

"I was talking to somebody who was with the Lakers last season and they were saying that if there's a person in the organization that Russ could listen to, they tried to talk to him," said Windhorst. "From what I'm told, just everybody there who Russ would allow an audience for [talked to him]."

There were reports during the season that Westbrook didn't take to playing for head coach Frank Vogel.

One member of the Lakers staff told Dan Woike of the Los Angeles Times in April that Westbrook "never respected" Vogel from the time he was traded to the Lakers:

"The moment Frank said anybody who gets the rebound can bring it up the court, which is just how the NBA is played these days, Russ was like, 'Naw, I'm the point guard. Give the ball to me. Everybody run.' Frank was like, 'No, we have Talen [Horton-Tucker)] We have Austin [Reaves]. We have Malik. We have LeBron. We have AD. They can all bring the ball up.' He was like, 'Nope, I'm the point guard. Give me that s--t. Everybody get out the way.'"

Thad Foucher, Westbrook's agent for 14 years, told ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski on July 15 that the two parted ways because of "irreconcilable differences."

In his statement to Wojnarowski, Foucher said the possibility of the nine-time All-Star being traded for the fourth time in the past four years "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."

Ham, the new Lakers head coach, told Marc J. Spears of Andscape earlier this month he has a plan to use Westbrook this season.

Marc J. Spears @MarcJSpears

“I got a wholehearted plan, a clear plan on how I’m going to use him. I showed it to him, sat down, brought stuff up for him. I think he’s going to flourish,” new <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Lakers?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Lakers</a> coach Darvin Ham on Russell Westbrook. Ham also answers whether Russ will start. <a href="https://t.co/51ZOP7UtZ7">https://t.co/51ZOP7UtZ7</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/nba?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#nba</a>

Of course, the plan depends on Westbrook still being in Los Angeles. That is still very much up in the air, though at the moment it seems like a strong possibility.

The Athletic's Bob Kravitz reported Friday that talks between the Lakers and Indiana Pacers about a trade package involving Westbrook "is currently dead" because the Lakers don't want to include an additional first-round draft pick.

NBA insider Marc Stein reported earlier this week on his Substack newsletter (h/t All Lakers' Adam Salcido) that the Lakers prefer a trade for Kyrie Irving, but the Brooklyn Nets want to figure things out with Kevin Durant before doing anything with Irving.

Stein also noted the Nets "have expressed great reluctance" in doing a deal with the Lakers unless a third team is involved that is willing to take Westbrook's $47.1 million expiring contract that Brooklyn doesn't want.

Westbrook averaged 18.5 points, 7.4 rebounds and 7.1 assists per game in 78 starts last season. The 33-year-old shot 44.4 percent from the field and 29.8 percent from three-point range.

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