Since the Los Angeles Lakers season ended in disappointment, questions have been swirling surrounding Russell Westbrook’s future.
As we headed into the final months of last season, Westbrook’s relationship with the fanbase began to rapidly deteriorate – with it looking untenable by the time the Lakers season came to a conclusion. Part of that breakdown in relationship was certainly due to the fact Westbrook has regressed as a player but seems to be the only one unwilling to accept it.
According to Jovan Buha of The Atheltic, it’s that lack of self-awareness that has made moving on from Westbrook such a difficult task for the Lakers.
“Russ does not have the self-awareness to acknowledge that he’s on the back nine of his career. He has declined across the board and nobody wants him right now…For the Lakers to flip him, they need to attach at least one asset, in terms of a pick, if not more. Russ is not really acknowledging that and it’s kind of the elephant in the room,” Buha said during a July 28 episode of The Athletic’s Daily Ding.
Westbrook ended last season with averages of 18.5 points, 7.1 assists, and 7.4 rebounds per game while shooting 44.4% from the field – averages most guards would kill for, but clearly a reduced output from Westbrook’s standpoint, and certainly an underwhelming return for a player with the usage rate the UCLA alumn enjoys.
Westbrook Fires Agent
While Westbrook hasn’t declared his intentions to leave the Lakers this summer, it does seem that is his ideal end to the current saga he finds himself a part of. Westbrook all but confirmed his intentions when he decided to part ways with his long-time agent, Thad Foucher.
Shortly after the pair ended their working relationship, Foucher released a press statement via ESPN, all but confirming that Westbrook wants out of Los Angeles, and that didn’t align with Foucher’s outlook on the current situation.
“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. And even then, such a trade may require Russell to immediately move on from the new team via buyout.
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. Russell is a first-ballot Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame player and will prove that again before he is retired,” Foucher wrote in his statement.
LeBron and Westbrook Appear to Have Issues
When LeBron James and Westbrook both attended the opening game of the Lakers Summer League in Las Vegas, where they faced the Phoenix Suns, the pair hit the headlines by staying on opposite ends of the gym, avoiding any interaction with one another.
“There was one notable exception among the visitors: Russell Westbrook, who sat in the opposite corner of Thomas & Mack Center next to the summer league players, stayed on the far side of James…Westbrook was involved in the team huddles, but never trekked across the gym – and neither did James, who arrived and left from a different entrance on the opposite side of the arena…It was a frosty scene that’s sure to get people talking,” Kyle Goon of The Orange County Register wrote on July 8.
Unfortunately for both Westbrook and LeBron, it doesn’t look like their much of a trade market for the veteran guard’s services, and with Los Angeles unlikely to consider buying out the final year of his contract, it looks like everybody will need to resolve their issues and commit to making things work in the coming season. Otherwise, it could be another early start to summer for all involved.