In the usual Friday news dump fashion, the Lakers once again took the spotlight for the second straight week in a row. However, this time, the news was all about Russell Westbrook who reportedly decided to cut ties with his agent Thad Foucher. According to Foucher's side of the story, which Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reported, the split was because of irreconcilable differences.
The split between the agent and player — who have been together since 2008 — caught those within the Lakers by surprise according to Jovan Buha of The Athletic (emphasis mine).
This is an unprecedented level of tea-spilling from an agent in real-time. It clearly speaks to a troubling dynamic behind the scenes, as the partnership evidently soured to the point that Foucher felt the need to get ahead of the report and publicly defend himself. According to league sources, the split caught several people around the Lakers off guard.
Every story has two sides, and we’ve yet to hear Westbrook’s recounting. The only communication we’ve seen from him so far is that he liked a tweet saying the split with Foucher had nothing to do with the Lakers. Considering Westbrook’s history with the media, he’s unlikely to address the matter until training camp, if at all.
To add context, this was the corresponding tweet that Westbrook liked moments after the news made the rounds on social media.
Has absolutely nothing to do with the Lakers situation. That's .— Noah (@__Rajaa) July 16, 2022
It’s no coincidence that Westbrook and Foucher’s divorce happened at the most uncertain time of the former MVP’s career. Everyone in the NBA is well aware that the Lakers are looking to unload Westbrook, and despite knowing this, Foucher still believed that it would be in his former client’s best interest to remain with the purple and gold this coming season. According to Foucher, Westbrook didn’t like this idea which is one of the reasons the future Hall-of-Famer parted ways with his agent.
Foucher’s statements also painted a picture that Westbrook continues to be resistant to adjusting his role and adhering to Darvin Ham’s vision for him. Despite supporting Ham in his introductory press conference and attending film sessions with the coach, Foucher implied that that Westbrook continues to send a message that he’s not interested in changing for the team’s sake next season.
All of this undoes the Lakers’ leverage in any trade negotiations that involve the nine-time All-Star. Despite their best efforts in telling the world that they don’t mind running it back with Westbrook, it’s clearer than ever that the Lakers are only fooling themselves.
As each day in the offseason continues to pass with one leak being released after another, it’s getting more and more obvious that like Westbrook and his agent, he and the Lakers are headed towards an ugly divorce.