After parting ways with longtime agent Thad Foucher in dramatic and surprise fashion last month, Russell Westbrook has signed with Jeff Schwartz of Excel Sports. Schwartz is a veteran agent and has a number of top players as clients.
Los Angeles Lakers star Russell Westbrook has signed with agent Jeff Schwartz of @ExcelSports for his representation, Westbrook told ESPN on Monday afternoon.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) August 1, 2022
One very interesting aspect of Westbrook’s choice in Schwartz is the agent’s recent experience in negotiating buyouts with teams. Kemba Walker is a client of Schwartz’s and has been bought out by two separate teams in recent years.
When Foucher and Westbrook parted ways, one of the noteworthy takeaways in the former’s statement was the alleged point of contention that Westbrook should play out his final year under contract in Los Angeles. If it is true that Westbrook is unwilling to ever again suit up in the purple and gold, the Lakers could end up buying him out of his deal. Preferably for the franchise though, they will still be able to find a trade partner willing to send them viable NBA players in return for his expiring contract, before that team in turn buys him out. In either scenario, Schwartz’s recent expertise could come in handy for Westbrook.
When Schwartz and Walker negotiated a buyout with the Thunder, Walker surrendered nearly $20 million. That was offset by the deal he immediately signed with the Knicks worth about $16 million over two seasons, but it still paints a picture of how far Schwartz would go in negotiating a buyout to land his client in the right situation.
Jeff Schwartz has a history of big money buyouts (Deron Williams, Blake Griffin, LaMarcus Aldridge, Andre Drummond, Kemba Walker). https://t.co/5USGHVmWkO— pickuphoop (@pickuphoop) August 1, 2022
Among Schwartz’s other clients are Khris Middleton, CJ McCollum, Kristpas Porzingis and Nikola Jokic. Schwartz and the Lakers have had a working relationship in recent years with the franchise signing DeAndre Jordan, Malik Monk and Andre Drummond, all Schwartz clients. In addition to those names, Brandon Ingram and Ivica Zubac were both Schwartz clients and drafted by the Lakers.
Schwartz’s history along with Foucher’s claims of Westbrook’s discontent with the franchise paints a pretty compelling picture for a potential buyout in the coming months, whether that’s with the Lakers or his next team.