Lakers’ Russell Westbrook splits with agent Thad Foucher

Confusion over Russell Westbrook’s future with the Lakers – and his desire for one – came to the fore on Friday night when his longtime agent told ESPN that he and Westbrook would no longer be working together.

The Times has confirmed Westbrook’s split from Thad Foucher from Wasserman. Foucher had represented 33-year-old Westbrook throughout his NBA career.

In a statement to ESPN, Foucher said “irreconcilable differences” are the reason for the break with Westbrook. Foucher also told ESPN that Westbrook’s “best option is to stay with the Lakers, accept the starting role and support that Darvin Ham has publicly offered.”

Multiple sources with knowledge of Westbrook and the Lakers’ mindset told the Times that Westbrook never asked for a trade. As this off-season begins, he has opted into the final year of his contract, which will net him $47 million next season.

Additional sources told the Times that the decision to part ways with Foucher had “nothing to do with the Lakers.”

The Times tried to reach Foucher, but no messages came back.

Still, the relationship between the Lakers and Westbrook looked severely strained this offseason. He attended the Lakers’ opener in Las Vegas that summer, but he and LeBron James, who was also there, didn’t speak – a stark contrast to their time together last summer.

The awkwardness has been noted across NBA circles, with firm belief that the Lakers’ biggest stars have been pushing for the team to trade for Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving.

There is still optimism among some players that a deal can be struck for Irving.

And while Westbrook has never formally requested treatment, a new situation could benefit the nine-time All-Star after a disastrous turnaround with the Lakers.

Still, the messiness of the situation only complicates matters for the Lakers, who are coming off a 33-49 season.

Westbrook has been the subject of trade rumors since the middle of last season when his partnership with James and Anthony Davis never resulted in a consistent win, with a combination of injuries and bad fits among the stars eventually causing the Lakers to miss the postseason.

The team has discussed Westbrook in trade iterations centered around the NBA, even though there’s no real market for the league’s formerly most valuable player and its $47 million prize.

In his statement to ESPN, which competing agents described as unusual, Foucher said a trade would undoubtedly hurt Westbrook’s value.

“Now, with the possibility of a fourth trade in four years, the market is telling the Lakers to add value with Russell in any trading scenario. And even then, such a trade may require Russell to buy out the new team immediately,” Foucher said in the statement. “I believe this type of transaction only serves to diminish Russell’s value and his best option is to remain with the Lakers, accepting the starting role and support that Darvin Ham has publicly offered. Russell is a first-round player in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame and will prove it again before he retires.

“Unfortunately, there are irreconcilable differences over his best path forward and we are no longer working together. I wish Russell and his family the very best.”

Last season, Westbrook averaged 18.5 points, 7.4 rebounds and 7.1 assists in 78 games.

Since being hired as Lakers manager in late May, Ham has publicly praised Westbrook, who attended Ham’s inaugural press conference.

“Don’t break it. Russell is one of the best players our league has seen,” said Ham when he was introduced. “And there’s a ton left in that tank. I don’t know why people keep trying to write him off.” Lakers’ Russell Westbrook splits with agent Thad Foucher

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