Russ Wants Out and Fires Agent for Recommending Staying with Lakers
Despite herculean efforts to find a path where Westbrook would work, the wheels of that bus are now spinning wildly out of control and threatening to derail any hopes of Russ and Lakers running it back for a second year.
While Russ has not formally requested a trade from the Lakers, he fired his longtime agent Thad Foucher over ‘irreconcilable differences’ for not agreeing with what appears to be his decision to finally request a trade. Foucher took the unusual step of going public about why he no longer will represent Russell Westbrook, recommending Russ “stay with the Lakers, embrace the starting role and support that Darvin Ham publicly offered.”
Obviously, Russ is not happy with the constant news on the Internet that LeBron and the Lakers are actively trying to trade him for Kyrie Irving, including teams demanding an unprotected first round pick to dump him. Despite praise and support from new Lakers’ coach Darvin Ham, Westbrook clearly has no interest in changing how he plays at this point and becoming “a pit bull on defense” and “guarding at a championship level.”
With Russ apparently now ready to demand a trade, the fantasy that the Lakers and Darvin Ham would somehow keep and convince Russ to change his spots, sacrifice his stats, and embrace being an elite defender is dead.
How Does Russ Demanding Trade Affect Lakers’ Pursuit of Kyrie?
Anyone watching James and Westbrook consciously avoiding each other at the Las Vegas Summer League last week fully understands that Russell Westbrook is done with LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers.
Forget Russ suddenly realizing he needs to change how he plays the game if he wants to enjoy success over the remaining years in his career. Despite an honest and sincere effort by Darvin Ham, Russ is too prideful to change. He’d rather ignore warning signs and blame the disappointing last season on Lakers’ head coach Frank Vogel not utilizing him properly and LeBron James and Anthony Davis not sacrificing or being able to remain healthy.
Needless to say, Russ responding in this fashion will eliminate any possible return as an active member of the rotation next season, which means the Lakers now must either find a trading partner or waive-and-stretch him. Like it or not, Russ is one of those superstar players a team does not want sitting on the bench if unhappy or disgruntled. The Lakers now know for sure that Russell Westbrook cannot be on their roster next season.
The Lakers can no longer keep alive the fantasy that Westbrook could be a productive part of the team for next season, which means they need to move quickly and decisively to trade him for Kyrie Irving whatever the cost.
What’s Most Lakers Can Give Up in Westbrook for Irving Trade?
Russell Westbrook and Talen Horton-Tucker are two players whom are poor fits next to superstars LeBron James and Anthony Davis and should be traded this offseason for three legitimate rotation players who are good fits.
Assuming the Lakers do not want to increase annual salaries or take back contracts longer than 1-year, this trade that includes two unprotected picks should be the Lakers best offer to the Nets for a Westbrook for Irving trade.
This is the most likely trade since Jeanie Buss does not want to pay more in salaries or incur more in luxury taxes than they did last season when they missed the playoffs but still had the fourth highest payroll and tax total.
Assuming the Lakers were willing to increase annual salaries and take back contracts longer than 1-year to upgrade the shooters being acquired along with Kyrie, this should be the Lakers best offer for a Russ for Kyrie trade.
Harris and McDermott both can play the three in addition to the two and McDermott has even excelled as a stretch four last season. They’re a major upgrade over Curry and Richardson and can be easily moved if needed.
The Lakers dump Russ, THT, and their 2027 and 2029 first round picks and get back three dead-eye guards who shoot over 40% from deep, including Irving who won an NBA championship in Cleveland with LeBron in 2016.