Around the Association: Westbrook Leaving L.A.? Harden Talks Pay Cut, Latest on Durant Trade Talks, More

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Around the Association: Westbrook Leaving L.A.? Harden Talks Pay Cut, Latest on Durant Trade Talks, More

Chicago Bulls

On day when MLB is drafting and the Home Run derby is on tap … let’s talk some basketball.

Russ, Lakers Reportedly Heading for a Divorce

The drama in Los Angeles has been simmering on a low flame while the rest of the league was ablaze this summer, but there may be some fireworks coming before the offseason is behind us.

Lakers beat writer Jovan Buha reported this morning that “the dynamic between the Lakers and Russell Westbrook is becoming more untenable with each passing week as the two sides seemingly head for an inevitable divorce.”

Buha points to Westbrook’s decision to part ways with former agent Thad Foucher last week as another indicator that Westbrook doesn’t wish to remain in Los Angeles anymore. Westbrook’s former agent had this to say in a statement provided to ESPN last week:

“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.”

Foucher’s belief that a trade for Westbrook would not only diminish his value on the open market but it would also be difficult for the Lakers to pull off without attaching value to Westbrook in a trade is pretty telling when it comes to how the rest of the league views Westbrook and his $47 million cap hit this season.

Woj had some interesting thoughts on Westbrook’s motivations in all this on ESPN recently:

Woj says that Westbrook “wants to be wanted” in Los Angeles. Still, it doesn’t seem like Westbrook is happy about the reported role for him by new head coach Devin Ham who prefers Westbrook to be a “defense-first point guard who plays more off the ball than he did last season (and of any season of his career),” according to Buha.

If the Lakers trade Westbrook, Westbrook will be playing for his fifth team in five seasons when things get underway in the fall.

Chris Haynes Sits Down with James Harden

Chris Haynes of Yahoo! Sports sat down with James Harden to discuss the pay cut he took to help Philly add to the roster, his new wine brand, his partnership with Joel Embiid, his health, and more.

Harden said of the new deal with Philadelphia:

“I had conversations with Daryl, and it was explained how we could get better and what the market value was for certain players. I told Daryl to improve the roster, sign who we needed to sign and give me whatever is left over,” Harden told Yahoo Sports. “This is how bad I want to win. I want to compete for a championship. That’s all that matters to me at this stage. I’m willing to take less to put us in position to accomplish that.”

What’s left over, according to Haynes, is a one-plus-one contract that will see him take a $15 million discount. It seems that Harden, who rightfully took a bad rap for forcing his way in and out of multiple teams the past few years, is as focused on winning as ever right now, and he’s proving it by leaving money on the table for the better of the team. To this, I say, let’s see. In the age of super teams and superstars having almost autonomist control over where they play, we’ve seen these honeymoon periods fade fast and ugly all too often, with Harden involved in a few demises.

You can read Haynes’ full exclusive with Harden here:

Woj: Nets Still Trying to Trade KD

It’s been almost a month since Kevin Durant requested a trade hours before NBA free agency began, but Durant is still in Brooklyn. According to Woj, the Nets are still trying to accommodate Durant’s wishes, but with every passing day, it becomes more and more likely that KD opens the season in Brooklyn.

The Nets are searching for what they perceive to be fair value for one of the game’s biggest superstars with four years of contract control left. It could be an astronomical ask for any NBA franchise if the blockbuster deals that we saw last month are where the market is at.

Woj breaks down the complicated nature of putting together a return for Durant in a recent segment on ESPN‘s Get Up!:

And Ones …

  • Speaking of those blockbuster trades and the market that is slowing down Kevin Durant’s exit from Brooklyn:
  • If you own a LaMelo Ball jersey, you will not be thrilled about this news from Shams. LaMelo is changing his jersey number from No. 2 to No. 1 for the 2022-23 season. Ball wore No. 2 for the first two seasons of his career. His older brother Lonzo wears No. 2 for the Bulls.
  • The Nets are trying to keep Joe Harris out of any trade involving Kyrie Irving heading elsewhere:
  • B/R‘s Jake Fischer said on a recent episode of his podcast that RJ Barrett and Tyler Herro are eying max contracts:

Author: Patrick K. Flowers

Patrick is a Staff Writer at Bleacher Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @PatrickKFlowers.