Rob Pelinka says the Los Angeles Lakers are ready to trade their first-round picks if they have an opportunity to strengthen the roster and provide support for LeBron James.

Four-time NBA MVP James signed a new contract with the Lakers worth a whopping $97.1million last month.

Los Angeles failed to make the playoffs last season and Darvin Ham has been charged with the task of turning their fortunes around, having replaced Frank Vogel as head coach.

Lakers general manager Pelinka says they are prepared to give up picks if it means they can add quality to the ranks.

He said during a media day: "One thing that needs to be made clear is, there was a lot of speculation, will the Lakers trade their picks? Will they not trade their picks?

"Let me be abundantly clear: we have one of the great players in LeBron James to ever play the game on our team. He committed to us with a long-term contract, a three-year contract.

"So of course, we will do everything we can, picks included, to make deals that give us a chance to help LeBron get to the end. He committed to our organisation. That's got to be a bilateral commitment, and it's there."

There has been talk that Russell Westbrook could be traded ahead of the new season, although he this week declared that he is "all-in" with the Lakers.

Pelinka said Westbrook is "a great part of our team", but gave no guarantees he will stay by stating: "If we have to continue to upgrade our roster throughout the season, we will."

The Lakers on Monday confirmed the signings of guard Dwayne Bacon and forward Matt Ryan.

 

Russell Westbrook's first season with the Los Angeles Lakers was anything but a success and he has been linked with a trade elsewhere, yet he maintains he is all-in ahead of the 2022-23 season.

The 2017 NBA MVP, who turns 34 in November, averaged 18.5 points per game last season – his worst scoring return since his second NBA year – after moving from the Washington Wizards to the Lakers, who missed the playoffs.

The nine-time All-Star also averaged 7.4 rebounds and 7.1 assists, despite the Lakers bringing together Westbrook alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis.

There was criticism that Westbrook was not the right fit in that team, although the trio only played together 21 times in their 33-49 season. That has led to suggestions Westbrook could be traded or transitioned into a role that would see him come off the bench.

"I'm all-in on whatever it takes for this team to win," Westbrook told reporters. "I'm prepared for whatever comes my way.

"There's so much optimism on how we can be great, how AD, LeBron, myself – can be unstoppable in my opinion."

The 33-year-old point guard reiterated that he still had plenty to offer, despite the downward trajectory of his 2021-22 statistics.

"I'm not even close to being done," Westbrook said. "I'm super grateful and blessed to be able to go compete year after year, and that's all I can do is prepare myself, my mind, my body for as long as I play.

"I'm going to make mistakes. I'm [occasionally] not going to have good games. There will be times and stretches when I don't play well.

"I've owned that, and there were times last year that I could've played better, and I own that part of it. Moving into this year, I feel even more prepared than I was in years past. That's what I'm looking forward to the most. That, right there, will get me past any struggles that come my way."

Westbrook's tough season also included copping boos and jeers from fans, although he insisted he had no scars from that and was more concerned about its impact on those close to him.

"I had to fight my response on how it affects the people close to me," he said. "To me, that was the important part. Confidence is not something I lack.

"Yes, there were times last season that I wanted to play better – that I should've played better – but my confidence never wavers. Having bad games is part of the NBA, and I understand that.

"The only thing it affected, for me, was the impact that it had on the people closest to me – my mom, dad, wife, brother, close friends.

"We've never had to deal with that as a family. That was the most difficult thing – being booed in the arena and having my kids there. I'd look over at my wife, my parents, and try to get them to know that it's okay. Having played so long in the league, I'm more accustomed to it."

The Los Angeles Lakers have added some experience to their roster ahead of the new season in the form of Dennis Schroder.

Schroder returns to L.A. after spending the 2020-21 season with the Lakers, before moving to the Boston Celtics and then the Houston Rockets.

The free agent point guard has signed a one-year deal worth a reported $2.64million.

Schroder – who was born in Germany – made 61 appearances in his first spell with the Lakers, averaging 15.4 points per game, as well as 5.8 assists and 3.5 rebounds.

Lakers' vice president of basketball operations and general manager Rob Pelinka said the player will provide a "mentality of toughness".

"We are extremely pleased to welcome Dennis Schroder back to the Lakers," Pelinka said. "Not only do Dennis and Coach [Darvin] Ham share a player-coach history together, but they also reflect one another's mentality of toughness with an extremely competitive edge.

"Dennis will add both depth and an on-ball defensive presence to our core at the guard position. He is also a proven scorer and playmaker.

"We are really excited for Dennis to get to camp and get back to work in L.A. after his highly successful run with his national team this offseason."

Schroder played a total of 64 games for the Celtics and Rockets last season, averaging 13.5 PPG, 4.6 assists and 3.3 rebounds.

LeBron James and Chris Paul believe Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver deserves a stronger punishment after an investigation found he engaged in racist and sexist conduct at the workplace.

The NBA announced on Tuesday that Sarver, who also owns the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury, has been suspended for one year and fined $10million following a 10-month independent investigation.

A scathing 43-page report found Sarver was known to make a number of inappropriate comments to women in the workplace – including discussing oral sex at a business meeting as recently as 2021 – as well as repeating the n-word on five occasions in situations where he claimed he was "recounting the statements of others".

Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling received a lifetime ban from the league in 2014 over alleged racist comments he made over the phone to an ex-girlfriend, whereas Sarver will be allowed to resume duties in 12 months' time.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver defended that decision on Wednesday, claiming the Sarver and Sterling cases cannot be compared, which led to criticism from high-profile stars James and Paul on social media.

In a series of Twitter posts, Los Angeles Lakers star James said: "Read through the Sarver stories a few times now. I gotta be honest…Our league definitely got this wrong. I don’t need to explain why.

"Y'all read the stories and decide for yourself. I said it before and I'm gonna say it again, there is no place in this league for that kind of behaviour. I love this league and I deeply respect our leadership. But this isn’t right.

"There is no place for misogyny, sexism, and racism in any work place. Don't matter if you own the team or play for the team. We hold our league up as an example of our values and this ain't it."

Twelve-time All-Star Paul, who has played for the Suns since 2020, also questioned the severity of the punishment.

"Like many others, I reviewed the report. I was and am horrified and disappointed by what I read," he wrote on Twitter. "This conduct especially towards women is unacceptable and must never be repeated.

"I am of the view that the sanctions fell short in truly addressing what we can all agree was atrocious behaviour. My heart goes out to all of the people that were affected."

The NBA will donate Sarver's $10m fine to organisations that are committed to addressing race and gender-based issues in and outside the workplace.

In a statement released after the report was published, Sarver said: "While I disagree with some of the particulars of the NBA's report, I would like to apologise for my words and actions that offended our employees.

"I take full responsibility for what I have done. I am sorry for causing this pain, and these errors in judgement are not consistent with my personal philosophy or my values."

The Los Angeles Lakers have acquired veteran guard Patrick Beverley in a trade that sees guard Talen Horton-Tucker and journeyman forward Stanley Johnson head to the Utah Jazz.

The move, confirmed by the teams on Thursday, gives the Lakers an experienced ballhandler and defensive pest as they try to bounce back from a dire 33-49 season.

Beverley played a key role last season with the emerging Minnesota Timberwolves, averaging 9.2 points, 4.1 rebounds and 4.2 assists as the franchise made just its second postseason appearance since 2004.

Beverley, 34, is on the move for the second time this offseason after being part of the blockbuster trade that sent Rudy Gobert from Utah to Minnesota in July.

The rebuilding Jazz, on the other hand, acquire a promising young guard in Horton-Tucker, who better fits their timeline.

A second-round pick in 2019, the 21-year-old has seen a steadily increasing dose of minutes over his three NBA seasons, averaging 9.3 points, 2.8 rebounds and 2.6 assists.

With Utah trading away another veteran player, the organisation's sights seem decidedly set on the future.

Trade speculation is likely to continue to swirl around three-time All-Star guard Donovan Mitchell, as well as other experienced players like Mike Conley and Bojan Bogdanovic.

The Los Angeles Lakers are finalising a trade to acquire Patrick Beverley from the Utah Jazz, according to reports.

Beverley previously spent four years in Los Angeles when representing the Clippers between 2017 and 2021, before impressing with the Minnesota Timberwolves last campaign.

The 34-year-old was influential in the Timberwolves' run to the Western Conference playoffs, where they were beaten by the Memphis Grizzlies, before heading to Utah as part of their trade for three-time all-star Rudy Gobert in July.

However, according to a report from ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, Beverley is on the move again as the Lakers look to improve a team whose defence ranked 21st in the NBA last season.

Beverley, who was a second-round pick for the Lakers in the 2009 draft before being traded, averaged 6.7 points, 3.2 rebounds and 1.7 assists throughout the 2021-22 campaign.

Guard Talen Horton-Tucker and forward Stanley Johnson are reportedly set to head to Utah as part of the deal, with the Lakers attempting to bounce back after missing out on the playoffs last term.

The Lakers also agreed a two-year contract extension worth $97.1million with LeBron James last week, ending speculation over the 37-year-old's future.

The Los Angeles Lakers' decision to give LeBron James a two-year contract extension worth $97.1million is as much about the player's brand as his ability, says sport finance expert Dan Plumley.

James had been entering the final year of a contract worth $44.5m. His new deal includes a player option for the 2024-25 season.

The extension takes the 37-year-old to $532m in guaranteed career earnings, which would mean he is the highest-paid player in the history of the league.

Despite his increasing years, James is still one of the top performers in the NBA, averaging 30.3 points per game in the 2021-22 season.

Speaking to Stats Perform, Plumley admitted he is surprised by the short-term nature of the deal not usually seen in US sports, but understands the brand of the athlete is often as important as the ability.

"I think that's now more the case than ever in every professional sport," said Plumley, who is principal lecturer in sport finance at Sheffield Hallam University. "Every team's looking at how they can use their superstars across respective sports.

"Of course, it's about first and foremost what they can do on the court, on the pitch, it's absolutely still about that.

"But the other side of it is what do they bring from a commercial side of things and what's the brand association, and what's the fit like, and how can the club or team leverage some of that against the superstars that they've got?

"It's absolutely the case with LeBron James. Of course it is. But I think it's the case across the board now for a lot of professional teams."

With James approaching 40 by the end of the two-year deal and with a history of injuries, there appears to be significant risk in the investment for the Lakers, but Plumley thinks it will be worth taking if it produces a championship or two.

"I think that there's the risk... but there was also the risk of losing him and losing the asset and losing the brand association and the value that somebody like LeBron James brings with the Lakers and everything else he's got going on in his personal life as well," he said.

"We know he's connected to Liverpool [Football Club, minority ownership] and the wider network that he operates in. So there's that at play where you're balancing the risk.

"From the playing side of things, yes, the injury risk is there but I think the Lakers felt that it was enough to get the next two years where they could potentially win something again with LeBron, and that risk was far lower than losing him. I think that's where they've ended up at.

"With the NBA, we know that careers can go a little bit later versus other sports. I think when you balance that off, the Lakers have obviously arrived at the decision that it's better to keep him now for a couple of years than potentially lose him."

In terms of the wider future of the NBA, Plumley understands there is danger in seeing deals increase in size, but believes basketball and other US sports will be safe from significant damage due to their closed nature and draft system.

"I think there's always the danger that you see figures like this, and we know that the salary cap is there, and there will always be a limit on this," Plumley added.

"But we've seen increases in the salary cap over time, which is not unusual when you think about the amount of money coming in. So if there's more money coming in, then there's an argument to raise the salary cap.

 

"I think what teams will always be suggesting and the way that side of things has gone is that there's an expectation that they need to keep raising the salary cap. And that's always okay if you've got the money coming in to support it, so I think that will be the trade-off.

"It's always a risk in any professional team sport. They are reliant on broadcasters and they're reliant on commercial partners to generate that revenue at the league level. And while that's okay and growing, these little increases in salary caps have been okay.

"The question always is 'where's the benchmark?' And if the benchmark has gone higher, because this is the biggest contract we've ever seen, then others will start to look towards that as the new benchmark. And I think that's just the risk in the background that you run.

"American sports are a little bit more protected in that sense, because of the nature of their league systems."

The Los Angeles Lakers will honour Spanish legend Pau Gasol when they retire his number 16 jersey next year.

A ceremony will take place on March 7, 2023 when the Lakers host the Memphis Grizzlies.

Gasol played for the Lakers between 2008 and 2014, having arrived from Memphis, appearing in three NBA Finals and winning two championships alongside Kobe Bryant.

Three of his six All-Star appearances came during his time in Los Angeles, before he left for the Chicago Bulls in 2014.

After time with the San Antonio Spurs and Milwaukee Bucks, Gasol returned to Europe for a second spell with Barcelona, where his career had begun, before retiring in October last year at the age of 41.

Following the announcement, Gasol took to Twitter to thank his former franchise, writing: "Beyond thankful and honoured!!!"

Gasol had an average of 17.7 points per game during his time with the Lakers, as well 9.9 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.4 blocks in 429 appearances.

He will join a number of legends, including Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Shaquille O'Neal, Bryant and Magic Johnson, in having his jersey retired by the Lakers.

Whenever people talk about the NBA, one name is rarely far away from any conversation.

LeBron James is once again the talk of basketball after reports emerged on Wednesday he had agreed a two-year extension with the Los Angeles Lakers worth an eye-watering $97.1million.

The 37-year-old had been entering the final year of a contract worth $44.5m. His new deal includes a player option for the 2024-25 season according to ESPN, citing Klutch Sports CEO Rich Paul.

James' deal takes him to $532m in guaranteed career earnings, which would mean he is the highest-paid player in the history of the league, ahead of Kevin Durant of the Brooklyn Nets.

Apart from having four NBA championships, four Finals MVPs, four NBA MVPs, 17 All-Star selections and three All-Star MVPs, what has James done to earn such a lucrative deal?

Stats Perform has taken a trip down memory lane to remind ourselves just why he is still the hottest property in the NBA.

Breakout in Cleveland

As the first pick of the 2003 NBA Draft, it was hardly surprising that James impressed from the start with the Cavaliers, averaging 20.9 points per game (PPG) in his debut season from 79 games.

It was the 2005-06 season where he really exploded, though, averaging 31.4 PPG in the regular season, which remains his highest ever for a campaign, before recording 30.8 PPG in the playoffs, where the Cavs were eliminated in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semi-finals by the Detroit Pistons.

James took Cleveland to the postseason for five straight seasons, agonisingly losing the 2007 Finals to the San Antonio Spurs, before taking the mantel again in 2009 as he put up 35.3 PPG in 14 playoff outings before Conference final heartbreak against the Orlando Magic.

He had become a superstar in his home state of Ohio, though it seemed like championship glory was always going to elude him in Cleveland and so in 2010, it was time for a decision.

LeBron brings the Heat

The television event titled 'The Decision' did not go down universally well, it is fair to say, as James dramatically revealed he was leaving the Cavs for the Miami Heat.

However, it turned out to be the catalyst for him to reach the next step as he was undoubtedly surrounded by more talent in Miami, and before long, much-deserved silverware.

Linking up superbly night after night with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, James reached the Finals every year in Florida, winning his first championship in 2012, before following it up in 2013 with another.

His numbers were ever so slightly lower at the Heat than they had been in Cleveland, though that clearly owed to having more help from the likes of Wade and Bosh.

James' first title win 2012 saw him average 30.3 PPG during the postseason, and led the way as he got some revenge on the Spurs in 2013, excelling in Game 7 to win his second championship.

 

The Cavalier returns home

In 2014, James came back to Cleveland with the desire to take his team to the promised land with him this time, and he did just that.

Just as he had in Miami, James went to the Finals every year of his second spell with the Cavaliers, and every year they played against the dominant Golden State Warriors.

After losing 4-2 in 2015, they returned to get revenge in 2016 as James starred on their way to an almost Hollywood-ending win against the Warriors, securing their first NBA championship.

They were unable to repeat the trick as the Warriors beat them in both the 2017 and 2018 Finals, but reaching four Finals in a row was still more than Cavs fans could have realistically expected.

Unfortunately for them, James was getting itchy feet again.

L.A. dreams not always what they are cracked up to be

James himself had a solid enough start to life in Los Angeles, posting 27.4 PPG for the Lakers in 2018-19, though injury issues sustained by him and several of his new team-mates led to a wobbly season, and therefore, no postseason for the first time for James since 2005.

Inevitably, he came roaring back the following year and in spite of the chaos caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, James and the Lakers returned to win the "bubble championship", the fourth title of his career with a third different team.

However, the 2020-21 campaign was one to forget as James recorded his lowest PPG for a season (25.0) since his rookie year, before the Lakers were dumped out of the playoffs in the first round by the Phoenix Suns.

Was it all over for LeBron? Not likely. He responded to that setback by scoring 1,695 points in just 56 games last season at an average of 30.3 PPG, his best regular season return since 2005-06.

James also reached a notable landmark in March, becoming the first player in NBA history to record 10,000 assists and 10,000 rebounds in a career.

 

Unfortunately for him, his team-mates were unable to match those efforts and the Lakers again failed to even make the playoffs, which could be why they were so desperate to find the funds to tie James' immediate future down.

His PPG has been higher in the playoffs than the regular season at every team he has played barring the Heat, where it was identical (26.9), proving the extent to which he is a clutch player and why it is imperative that the Lakers reach the postseason next year to make the most of the time they have left with him.

Injuries permitting, it is also practically certain he will overtake Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the NBA's all-time leading scorer next season (currently 1,325 points behind).

Now that his new deal is agreed, you can be sure when that landmark arrives, LeBron will be wearing the same Lakers jersey Kareem did so famously.

The Los Angeles Lakers have tied down the immediate future of the greatest player of all time in LeBron James, according to Lakers podcaster Anthony Irwin.

James has agreed a two-year contract extension with the Lakers worth a whopping $97.1million, it was reported by ESPN on Wednesday, citing Klutch Sports CEO Rich Paul.

The 37-year-old had been entering the final year of a contract worth $44.5m. His new deal apparently includes a player option for the 2024-25 season.

Last season, James played 56 games overall, averaging 30.3 points per game, only the second time he has averaged over 30 in a single campaign (31.4 PPG for the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2005-06). 

He averaged 8.2 rebounds per game, 6.2 assists and hit a career-high season average of 2.9 three-pointers and 8.0 attempts per game.

James also became the first player in NBA history to record more than 10,000 career points, rebounds and assists.

Speaking to Stats Perform, Irwin said he lists James ahead of Michael Jordan and former Laker Kareem Abdul-Jabbar when it comes to judging the best player of all time.

"I have him as the greatest ever, in my book," he said. "Now, we're splitting hairs anytime you're talking about him and Michael and Kareem, who for some reason is never like involved in the conversation in ways that I think he should be.

"The league is more competitive I think now than it was when Michael was playing. I think you have to take that into account.

"If you have Michael as your GOAT (greatest of all time)? Cool. If you have LeBron as your GOAT? Cool. If you have Kareem is your GOAT? Super cool, because I would love to hear the people who make that case.

"Anybody who tries to act as if those three guys don't have a case to be made, those are the people that I find myself rolling my eyes at."

 

Irwin – who hosts Lakers podcasts on Silver Screen and Roll – was pleased with the reported agreement between the organisation and James, believing it could make things easier for the Lakers as they look to move Russell Westbrook on.

"It's good that all parties came to the conclusion that they couldn't have this loom over the season or training camp," Irwin added. "I think if LeBron was going to continue his relationship with the Lakers, they had to either announce an exit strategy or announce an extension. Fortunately, they came to the latter decision.

"The other part of this that I find interesting is obviously everybody knows they've been trying to trade Russell Westbrook.

"One source of leverage that other teams might have had on the Lakers as they tried to do that was 'You have to trade Russell Westbrook, you have to appease Lebron James. Otherwise, he's not going to sign that extension.' And you have that awkward relationship carrying forward into the season.

"Now, that's not something that other teams have. So this helps the Lakers, I think, accomplish their goal of not just moving Westbrook but not overpaying to do so. And hopefully bringing some legitimate help back in return."

LeBron James has agreed a two-year contract extension with the Los Angeles Lakers worth a whopping $97.1million.

James, 37, had been entering the final year of a contract worth $44.5m. His new deal, as reported by ESPN, includes a player option for the 2024-25 season.

The NBA great missed the Lakers' final two games of the 2021-22 season after suffering a sprained ankle, although he did enjoy the second-most productive campaign of his storied career in terms of points per game.

He played 56 games overall, averaging 30.3 points per game, only the second time he has averaged over 30 in a season (31.4 PPG for the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2005-06). 

 

James averaged 8.2 rebounds per game, 6.2 assists and brought three-pointers into his arsenal more than ever, hitting a career-high season average of 2.9 successes and 8.0 attempts per game.

He also became the first player in NBA history to record more than 10,000 career points, rebounds and assists.

During career, James has won four NBA titles with three different teams – the Miami Heat, Cleveland Cavaliers, and the Lakers.

In each of his championship-winning seasons, James was voted as Finals MVP, while he is also a four-time regular-season MVP, and an 18-time All Star.

Shareef O'Neal, the son of Hall of Famer Shaquille O'Neal, has signed with the NBA G League Ignite team. 

After playing for the Los Angeles Lakers during Summer League, The Athletic reported that O'Neal had put pen to paper on a six-figure contract. 

The 22-year-old, who was not picked in the 2022 NBA Draft, confirmed the news by tweeting: "Vegas, let's do it! Thank you Ignite!" 

O'Neal averaged 4.7 points, 3.7 rebounds and 10.9 minutes per game in his six Summer League appearances. 

The Ignite team was established in 2020 to help elite NBA prospects develop their game without going to college. 

O'Neal was diagnosed with a right anomalous coronary artery and underwent open heart surgery in December 2018 while at UCLA. 

After taking a shot at Russell Westbrook by using him as the butt of a joke, San Antonio Spurs rookie Jeremy Sochan took to Twitter to say he was "not intending on being disrespectful" to the Los Angeles Lakers superstar. 

In a social media video, Sochan and fellow Spurs rookie Malaki Branham participated in a word association game while at this month's NBA Summer League in Las Vegas. 

Branham gave the hint, "Russell Westbrook get 'em a lot", with the hope Sochan would guess "triple-double" in response.

However, Sochan immediately said "bricks".

The 19-year-old eventually correctly guessed "triple-double" and apologised for the insult on Twitter. 

"It's banter, I was not intending on being disrespectful," he said. "Heat of the moment, I was playing a game baby."

Sochan, the ninth overall pick of this year's draft, later went on to say Westbrook has "been one idol since I started watching the NBA and my dog is called Russell".

While Westbrook is the NBA all-time leader in triple-doubles with 194, the 2016-17 league MVP struggled mightily with his shot from 3-point range last season, shooting 29.8 per cent from beyond the arc. 

Among the 142 players with at least 250 3-point attempts in 2021-22, Westbrook had the fourth-worst shooting percentage.

LeBron James showed no rust on Saturday in his return to competitive basketball at the Drew League, while former team-mate Kyrie Irving was a no-show after being expected to take the court. 

James had 42 points, 16 rebounds and four steals while teaming with Chicago Bulls forward DeMar DeRozan at the Drew League, a pro-am event held every summer in the Los Angeles area. 

It was James' first action since missing seven of the Los Angeles Lakers' final eight games due to a sprained ankle. James appeared in just 56 games in 2021-22 as he dealt with ankle, knee and abdominal injuries. 

However, he managed to average 30.3 points, 8.2 rebounds and 6.2 assists for a Lakers team that missed the playoffs with a 33-49 record. 

"I'm 100 percent healthy," James told ESPN on Saturday in his first appearance at the Drew League since 2011. 

Irving, meanwhile, was expected to play in the event but instead attended a camp hosted by Lakers assistant coach Phil Handy. 

"They were pretty sure he was coming," Drew League Commissioner Dino Smiley told NBA.com of Irving's representatives. "But you know how Kyrie is. I guess he changed his mind in the middle of it."

James and Irving won an NBA title with the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2016, and rumours have been swirling that they could be reunited in Los Angeles. 

Irving recently exercised his $36.5million player option for next season with the Brooklyn Nets, but with Kevin Durant requesting a trade out of Brooklyn, the Nets could be looking to move Irving as well. 

ESPN has reported that the Nets and Lakers have been in talks about a deal that would send Irving to Los Angeles and Russell Westbrook to Brooklyn. 

"In order to get great talent, you have to give up a lot of great talent and value in draft picks," Lakers president Jeanie Buss told NBA.com. "Every team is sophisticated and smart. Nobody is just asleep at the wheel. 

"Everybody is just trying to make their team better. Some teams are pivoting from a path they were on and want to deal because they have players that don't fit what their plans are. So it's a fluid situation. You always have to stay on top of it."

Russell Westbrook has split from long-time agent Thad Foucher due to "irreconcilable differences" over "his best pathway forward".

Foucher, who has represented the former MVP for his entire NBA career, revealed the news in a statement released to ESPN.

The development comes as Westbrook's future remains unclear, with his huge contract and underwhelming performances hampering the Los Angeles Lakers.

Trade rumours have circled Westbrook, even as new Lakers coach Darvin Ham described himself as "excited as hell to have Russell Westbrook on our team".

Foucher also feels Westbrook and the Lakers should continue together, although he did not make clear whether this opinion had contributed to their parting.

"I represented Russell Westbrook for 14 years and am proud of our partnership, which included a highly successful 2008 draft, a super-max contract and the only renegotiation-and-extend max contract in history," Foucher's statement read.

"I also supported Russell throughout his rise into a prominent fashion industry figure and recently orchestrated three successive trades on Russell's behalf – culminating with the trade to his hometown Los Angeles Lakers.

"Each time, teams gave up valuable players and assets to acquire Russell – and each time, a new organisation embraced his arrival. We did it together with grace and class.

"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.

"Unfortunately, irreconcilable differences exist as to his best pathway forward and we are no longer working together. I wish Russell and his family the very best."

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