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Russell Westbrook, Los Angeles Lakers, Donovan Mitchell, LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, New York Nicks, Julius Randle Trade

Things aren’t getting any rosier at the Lakers, with the relationship between superstars Russell Westbrook and LeBron James continuing to go downhill.

Now, a new trade scenario has emerged that could finally rid the Los Angeles club of Westbrook and his $47.1 million USD wage for the upcoming season.

Westbrook recently split with long-time agent Thad Foucher, who released a bombshell statement that indicated Westbrook was desperate to leave the Lakers – even if there’s precious little interest in the fading superstar.

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‘Never seen a statement like that’: Agent’s bombshell on Lakers star’s future after shock split

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The Athletic reports that: “According to league sources, the split caught several people around the Lakers off guard.” It certainly doesn’t help what is already an unstable environment.

But it is not just his agent with whom Westbrook apparently has ‘irreconcilable differences’ (as Thoucher termed the reason for their split). It seems Westbrook has fallen out with LeBron James, who is reportedly keen to shift Westbrook and potentially make room for a meeting with Kyrie Irving of the Brooklyn Nets.

But talks between the Lakers and Nets have “not progressed,” ESPN reports, leaving James increasingly unlikely to have Irving on his side this season.

James and Westbrook both recently watched a Lakers’ Summer League Game – but did not speak to each other at all and exited the game at different times through different doors.

Kyle Goon wrote in the Orange County Register: “The subtext of the chilly scene seemed clear: Several people within the Lakers organization acknowledged it was an awkward and tense moment between its two most high-profile superstars, sources told Southern California News Group.”

Awkward and tense – it sums up the mood at one of the NBA’s glamor franchises.

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Another James comment has been interpreted as a possible slight of Westbrook. On a recent episode of his YouTube show “The Shop,” James opened up on his desperation to win – and how troublesome he finds it when teammates don’t ‘feel the same way’.

“I’m obsessed with it. With win or bust,” James said. “And what makes me have sleepless nights is when you don’t have everyone that feels the same way on your club.”

The situation is getting sadder by the hour, especially as a deal to send Westbrook to Brooklyn in a trade for Kyrie Irving becomes less obvious.

As Jovan Buha wrote in The Athletic, “Westbrook is an ironclad first-ballot Hall of Famer, but this is becoming one of the saddest post-prime superstar runs in NBA history.”

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He added: “If it’s true that Westbrook isn’t willing to accept the role (coach Darvin) Ham is asking of him, then the Lakers need to strongly consider alternative options if they can’t trade Westbrook, including the drastic scenario of sending him home and paying him $47.1 million to stay away from the team. No Westbrook is better than last season’s inefficient and ill-fitting Westbrook.”

That would be a staggering decision, but even contemplating the possibility of paying that money for nothing reflects the grim reality in Los Angeles.

However, they could be spared by another side’s salary concerns.

The Knicks are reportedly ready to go all-in on a trade for Donovan Mitchell of the Utah Jazz., a trade that looks certain to happen at some point.

Julius Randle could hold the key to Westbrook’s future.Source: Getty Images

But NBA insider Marc Stein quoted a source as saying the Knicks aren’t going to stop there – they are also looking to “explore scenarios to trade away Julius Randle” if they can acquire Mitchell.

The renowned reporter notes that the most likely option to rid Randle from their books would be a swap for Westbrook.

27-year-old Randle was an All-Star in 2020-21 as the Knicks reached the playoffs, but struggled this season and is widely viewed to be overpaid on a four-year, $117 million USD contract extension that runs through the 2024- 2025 season. The Knicks are keen to get that lucrative contract off their books – and Westbrook’s expiring contract of $47.1 million in 2022-23 would be one way to do it.

They could either buy out Westbrook’s deal or keep him on their roster – which, despite his declining form, might not be a bad fit.

For the Lakers, Randle would be a handy back-up big man, while the idea of ​​picking up some bad contracts is likely more appealing than being forced to give up draft capital to get rid of Westbrook.


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