Another high-profile star has opted in to a lucrative contract as the NBA continues to prepare for free agency.

Hot on the heels of Kyrie Irving committing to the Brooklyn Nets, with potential destinations for a move thin on the ground, Russell Westbrook has picked up his option with the Los Angeles Lakers.

Westbrook will be paid $47.1million for the 2022-23 season, making it little surprise his decision was reported on Tuesday.

The 2017 NBA MVP endured a difficult first year in LA – to say the least – but will hope for a fresh start under new Lakers coach Darvin Ham.

Westbrook's huge contract made him extremely difficult to trade, limiting the Lakers' moves this offseason significantly.

The New York Knicks have worked to ensure they are not in the same position, despite similarly being tied to a highly paid underperforming player in Julius Randle.

The Knicks traded away their 11th pick in the 2022 NBA Draft among transactions that included dumping Kemba Walker's contract with the Detroit Pistons.

And the Knicks have also come to an agreement for the Pistons to take on both Nerlens Noel and Alec Burks.

These moves have cleared around $30m in cap space, and the Knicks appear determined to spend that money on Jalen Brunson, the Dallas Mavericks point guard.

Brunson is set to be a target for the Knicks after the free agency period begins on Thursday, and his departure would deal a blow to the Mavs and superstar Luka Doncic.

Dallas reached the Western Conference Finals in 2021-22 and have boosted their roster with a move for Christian Wood from the Houston Rockets.

But Brunson was the team's second man behind Doncic, leaving work to do just to get back to the level they have reached in recent months.

A trading card of NBA star LeBron James has sold at auction with collectibles marketplace Goldin for $2.4million, including buyer's premium.

The unique 2020-21 Panini Flawless Triple Logoman of James includes embedded segments of the 37-year-old's game-worn jerseys from his time at the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Miami Heat and the Los Angeles Lakers.

It had been anticipated that it could break the all-time record for a sports trading card, which is a Honus Wagner baseball card that was sold for $6.6m in 2021.

Panini's 2020-21 Flawless release included five Triple Logoman cards, made up of patches from three-star players, though James' was the only card that features three patches from one player.

The four other cards include patches from Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry; Draymond Green, Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson; Anthony Edwards, LaMelo Ball and Tyrese Haliburton, and Jayson Tatum, Luka Doncic and Zion Williamson.

The Los Angeles Lakers did not have a first-round pick in the 2022 NBA Draft, but they will have a pair of high-profile rookies on their Summer League roster. 

Ex-LSU forward Shareef O'Neal and former Vanderbilt guard Scotty Pippen Jr have agreed to free-agent contracts with the team as they try to follow their famous fathers into the NBA.

O'Neal is the son of Hall of Famer Shaquille O'Neal, who played eight seasons with the Lakers from 1996 to 2004 and helped the franchise to three consecutive NBA championships from 2000 to 2002. 

Pippen's father, Scottie, was a seven-time All-Star and a major part of the Chicago Bulls dynasty in the 1990s that won six NBA titles in an eight-year span from 1991 to 1998.

According to The Athletic, O'Neal has received an invitation to play on the Lakers' Summer League team in Las Vegas, while Pippen Jr has agreed to a two-way contract – as has Syracuse's Cole Swider.

Both players confirmed the signings on their Twitter accounts.

"THANK YOU FOR THIS OPPORTUNITY @Lakers!," O'Neal wrote while posting a short video of him as a child in a Lakers jersey.

"Dreams come true. Let's get to work #lakeshow," Pippen Jr tweeted.

The six-foot-10 O'Neal began his collegiate career at UCLA before transferring to LSU, where his father starred prior to being taken by the Orlando Magic with the number one overall pick of the 1992 draft. Foot injuries limited the younger O'Neal to only 37 games over three college seasons.

Pippen Jr, a six-foot-three guard who attended high school in the Los Angeles area, went undrafted despite a standout three-year career at Vanderbilt in which he scored 1,577 points in three seasons.

The 21-year-old averaged over 20 points per game in each of his final two seasons and was a two-time first team All-Southeastern Conference selection.

Darvin Ham insisted Russell Westbrook is one of the best players the NBA has ever seen upon his announcement as Los Angeles Lakers head coach on Monday.

The nine-time All-Star and former MVP had a patchy first season in the purple and gold despite averages of 18.5 points, 7.4 rebounds and 7.1 assists.

The 33-year-old was widely regarded as the cause behind the Lakers finishing with a 33-49 record which saw them finish 11th in the Western Conference, even missing the Play-In Tournament.

Asked about fitting Westbrook with LeBron James and Anthony Davis during his introduction as the Lakers coach, Ham took the opportunity to defend the embattled point guard.

"Don't get it messed up," he said. "Russ is one of the best players our league has ever seen, and there's still a ton left in that tank. I don't know why people tend to try to write him off.

"I'm going to approach him like I do every player I've ever encountered. We're going to talk about our running habits, with the ball, without the ball. And again, the team, the rhythm of the team and trying to establish a rhythm with LeBron, Russ, AD.

"And again, share the load defensively and offensively. Defensively is where you're going to see us make our biggest leaps and bounds. We have to commit to the defensive side of the ball or we don't have a chance to do anything. Our offence won't even matter if we don't get stops."

After an eight-year playing career in the NBA, Ham got his first coaching job in the league working as an assistant at the Lakers, as a part of Mike Brown's staff in 2012-13.

After that season, the 48-year-old spent the following years on Mike Budenholzer's staff with the Atlanta Hawks and Milwaukee Bucks, winning the NBA title in 2021.

"The fact that I got my start as a coach here, this place will always be special for me," Ham said. "It's like a homecoming for me, in all seriousness."

"As sad as it is for me to be leaving coach Bud, sometimes you got to walk that walk on your own. We went from colleagues, to friends, to brothers while all the while making history."

Los Angeles Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka identified Darvin Ham's "no-nonsense and hard-working approach" as key, as he was confirmed as the team's head coach on Friday.

A week after reports emerged of Ham's imminent appointment at Crypto.com Arena, the Lakers officially welcomed their new coach.

Ham previously worked under Mike Brown as an assistant on the Lakers between 2011 and 2013, and he returns to the team from the Milwaukee Bucks.

The 48-year-old – whose only previous head coaching job was with the New Mexico Thunderbirds, now the Cleveland Charge – followed Mike Budenholzer from the Atlanta Hawks to Milwaukee in 2018.

He was part of the staff that helped the Bucks to win their second NBA championship in 2021, adding to a sole success as a player on the 2004 Detroit Pistons.

Now, Ham will be leading the Lakers, looking to improve on a hugely underwhelming season in which the team failed to qualify for the playoffs.

LeBron James is ageing, Anthony Davis has endured injury issues, and the signing of Russell Westbrook as a third superstar was not a success.

James was enthused by reports of Ham's arrival, though, and Pelinka is also looking forward to seeing his latest hire get to work.

"When someone begins his NBA coaching career at the G League level and goes all the way through playing an integral role on the front bench of an NBA championship team, it really speaks to a certain strength of character," Pelinka said.

"Our players and fans will immediately identify with Darvin's no-nonsense and hard-working approach, which we feel will bring toughness and a competitive edge to all we do.

"When you add that to Darvin's sophisticated grasp of in-game strategy and deep knowledge of the game of basketball, we have the ideal coach for this next chapter in Lakers history.

"We could not be more honoured and proud to name Darvin Ham as our new head coach."

Ham is set to meet the media for the first time as Lakers coach on Monday, when potential offseason trades for Westbrook and his significant salary are sure to be a topic of discussion.

The Los Angeles Lakers have hired Milwaukee Bucks assistant Darvin Ham as their new head coach after he was brought in for a formal interview for the position on Thursday.

Ham, who will become a head coach in the NBA for the first time, was chosen ahead of former NBA head coaches Terry Stotts – who spent nine season in charge of the Portland Trail Blazers – and Kenny Atkinson, who oversaw the rebuild of the Brooklyn Nets before the arrival of Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.

Before becoming a coach, Ham played 417 games across eight seasons in his NBA career, and earned his first assistant role in the league with the Lakers back in 2011.

After two seasons with the Lakers, Ham moved on to the Atlanta Hawks, where alongside head coach Mike Budenholzer he helped them become the top seed in the Eastern Conference in 2014-15, despite their top-scorer being Paul Millsap at 16.7 points per game.

When Budenholzer was fired in 2017 and took the head role with the Bucks, Ham followed, and was a key member in the staff that won the 2021 NBA Championship.

Long-considered a head-coach-in-waiting, Ham was viewed as a front-runner for the vacancies with the Washington Wizards and the Sacramento Kings before ultimately being passed on, leaving him as the man tasked with mounting another championship run while LeBron James remains near the top of his game.

James tweeted his excitement about the hiring, saying: "So damn EXCITED!!!!!!!! Congrats and welcome coach DHam!!"

Ham will also be only the third African American coach to enter an NBA season as head coach of the Lakers, after Mike Brown did so in 2011-12 – getting fired after five games – and Byron Scott in 2014-15 and 2015-16.

Nikola Jokic was named in the All-NBA first team ahead of Joel Embiid and alongside Jayson Tatum, Luka Doncic, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Devin Booker in Tuesday evening's announcement.

Jokic pipped fellow center Embiid for the NBA's 2021-22 MVP award earlier this month and the Serbian again got the nod in that position in the All-NBA first team, although the Philadelphia 76ers star was eligible as a forward but also missed out.

While Jokic and Embiid split votes, Milwaukee Bucks forward Antetokounmpo was the only unanimous selection in the first team.

Antetokounmpo became the first player over the past 50 years to be a unanimous selection to the All-NBA first team in four straight seasons.

Tatum and Booker were both selected to the All-NBA first team for the first time.

Embiid led the selections for the second team, alongside DeMar DeRozan, Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry and Ja Morant.

LeBron James was named to the third team, with Pascal Siakam, Karl-Anthony Towns, Chris Paul and Trae Young.

Kenny Atkinson is expected to be interviewed for the role of head coach with the Los Angeles Lakers.

Atkinson is currently an assistant with the Golden State Warriors, who remain immersed in the postseason.

He has been given the go-ahead to talk to the Lakers about their vacancy, according to widespread reports.

The Lakers fired Frank Vogel after missing out on the playoffs and have since been linked with Atkinson's Warriors colleague Mike Brown, former Portland Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts, Milwaukee Bucks assistant coach Darvin Ham and Toronto Raptors assistant Adrian Griffin. Former Warriors head coach Mark Jackson is another reputedly under consideration.

Brown has since accepted an offer to become head coach of the Sacramento Kings, ruling him out of the running.

Former Brooklyn Nets head coach Atkinson had a spell in Los Angeles as assistant with the Clippers in the 2020-21 season before taking up his current post with Golden State.

The 54-year-old had a 118-190 record across his four seasons with the Nets, and they reached the postseason only once in that time, losing in the first round to the Philadelphia 76ers.

In a disappointing 2021-22 season, the Lakers finished with a 33-49 record to miss out on the playoffs, two years after landing an NBA championship, despite having the likes of LeBron James and Russell Westbrook on their roster.

It was perhaps not the most surprising news when it emerged on Monday that coach Frank Vogel had been dismissed by the Los Angeles Lakers.   One of the most star-studded teams of all time inexplicably failed to even make the NBA Play-In tournament, finishing the season with a record of 33-49 and in 11th place in the western conference.   However, it would have been astonishing to imagine this scenario in September, when Vogel was handed a one-year extension to his deal, and especially a year prior to that when he was lifting an NBA championship in his first year with the Lakers.   How did we get here, though?

Vogel enjoyed a good start to his career in coaching, making it to the play-offs with the Indiana Pacers in each of his first four years, reaching the conference finals in 2013 and 2014.

After six years in Indiana, he moved to the Orlando Magic, but was unable to repeat the trick there with a young team, with an overall regular season record in his two years in Florida of 54-110, failing to reach the post-season in either campaign before being fired in 2018.

A year later, he was appointed by the Lakers, making a great start as he boasted a regular season record of 52-19, before going on to win their first championship in 10 years.

Vogel's second season was not as smooth, with a 42-30 regular season record. A dramatic Play-In victory against the Golden State Warriors brewed excitement that another dramatic championship run could be on the cards, but a 4-2 defeat to the Phoenix Suns in the first playoff round ended those hopes.

Despite that setback, his post-season win percentage of 66.7 is the third-best in Lakers history, behind only Pat Riley (68.5) and Paul Westhead (68.4).

However, even after having faith shown in him with a one-year contract extension in August 2021, Vogel was unable to add to those figures with a spectacular failure to reach the post-season this year.

The regression in 2020-21 had largely been put down to injury issues suffered by two of his stars, LeBron James and Anthony Davis, and with those two back fit and after trading to bring Russell Westbrook in from the Washington Wizards, the Lakers went into the 2021-22 season as one of the favourites to go all the way.

 

While Davis and James have suffered further injury setbacks, the latter has still had one of his most productive seasons of an illustrious career, and a failure to get anything like the best out of Westbrook has also been a factor.

James averaged over 30 points per game (30.3) for the first time since 2007-08, with only Joel Embiid averaging more across the league (30.6), though it was the first season since 2009-10 in which Westbrook averaged fewer than 20 points per game (18.5).

The 33-year-old did not hold back when asked about Vogel on Monday, saying at his exit interview: "I think it's unfortunate, to be honest, because I've never had an issue with any of my coaches before.

"I'm not sure what [Vogel's] issue was with me, or I'm not sure why, but I can't really give you an answer to why we really never connected."

The writing was on the wall towards the end of the season, with the Lakers losing eight straight games to miss out on the Play-In tournament, only slightly improving their record with two final wins before the end of the regular season, and ultimately, the end of Vogel's time in LA.

Russell Westbrook feels he was never given a fair shot at delivering the best version of himself throughout a frustrating first season at the Los Angeles Lakers.

The 2017 MVP was acquired from the Washington Wizards during the offseason but struggled for form across the 2021-22 campaign.

Westbrook posted his lowest points-per-game season average for over a decade, as the Lakers missed out on the playoffs.

Speaking in his final media conference of the term, Westbrook hit out at "narratives" about his arrival, and added he felt he was forced to "prove himself" in a superstar side.

"People create narratives of me and who I am and what I do and what I believe in that are just not true," he stated.

"I'm always having to prove myself again and year after year after year, which is to me, just unfair. There's literally no reason to have to do that.

"So when I first got here, I just felt that I never was given a fair chance just to be who I needed to be, to be able to help this team."

Championship-winning coach Frank Vogel was dismissed on Monday, and Westbrook was candid on his relationship with the now-ex Lakers man, admitting he believed they struggled to click.

"I'm not sure what his issue was with me, or I'm not sure why, but I can't really give you an answer why we never really connected," he added.

"Maybe you know, that's something that he has to answer but from the get go I was feeling [I had] to prove myself to him and my capabilities and what I've been able to do for this game.

"It's unfortunate, but it's really not come out of my hands."

Frank Vogel was fired after the Los Angeles Lakers endured "a disappointing season at every level", according to general manager Rob Pelinka. 

The Lakers missed out on a place in the NBA playoffs after a 33-49 season saw them finish 11th in the Western Conference, costing the head coach his job on Monday. 

Vogel led the Lakers to the NBA championship in his first season at the helm, but a poor campaign has seen him removed from the post just 18 months later. 

Speaking after the announcement of Vogel's departure, the Lakers' vice-president of basketball operations and general manager Pelinka said the time had come for a change. 

"I want to thank him for three really strong years," Pelinka said of Vogel. "We just felt like it was time for a change in our leadership voice. Frank is a great man, a great coach and will go on to do great things. 

"This was a disappointing Lakers season at every level. In the face of disappointment, our fans expect more, and that's at every facet.  

"I think when you have disappointment, you need to take ownership of that and vow to make the adjustments to be better. That's where the work starts today.  

"We've been in this place before and we know what it takes to put in the work to fix it, and that's where our energy and time will be spent in the coming days."

In his 19th season in the league, Lakers star LeBron James averaged 30.3 points, 8.2 rebounds and 6.2 assists in 37.2 minutes per game. 

Pelinka acknowledged the roster assembled for this season was not good enough, but felt confident the Lakers can experience success again in the future, with James remaining their lynchpin. 

"We need to do all we can to be caretakers of his legacy and to try to build the best team we can around him," he added. "We had the objective for that last year and obviously this roster did not work.

"But there's a great level of trust in our collaboration with him to make sure we get it right this summer and fix it. 

"I don't know exactly how long LeBron will play but, of course, this year he played at the highest level. [It was] an incredible year for him offensively, and he feels highly motivated to return next year and have another elite level of play. 

"If our team had found a way to win more, he would have been in the MVP conversation. For him to play at that level in the 19th year of his career is jaw-dropping, and his motivation to come back and do that again next year was palpable in my exit interview with him. 

"Every indication we've received is that he sees the Lakers as his home."

LeBron James does not intend to play a significant role in any offseason roster moves the Los Angeles Lakers make. 

The Lakers missed the NBA playoffs after finishing 11th in the Western Conference with a 33-49 record, resulting in head coach Frank Vogel being fired after a frustrating campaign.

James and Anthony Davis were reportedly particularly influential in the decision for Los Angeles to blow up their roster with a trade for Russell Westbrook last year, who endured a disappointing season. 

It seems James will now take a back seat during an impending roster shake up, insisting his focus is solely on leading the team that the Lakers put on the floor. 

"It's human nature to start thinking about the roster and what it could look like and how we could have a roster that brings in more wins," said James, speaking to the media prior to the announcement of Vogel's dismissal.

"I've started to think about it a little bit. It's not solely on me obviously, but we definitely want to be better coming into next year. 

"It's not my decision to sit here and say, 'Well, this is what we should bring back and have on the roster.' That would be the front office's decision. 

"Obviously they may ask for my input, but at the end of the day, they'll make the decision they feel best suits this franchise going forward. 

"I think the front office is gonna do whatever it takes to help this ball club become better. 

"It's my job to make sure I'm ready at the start of training camp, ready to lead the franchise and the team that's put on the floor. That is my focus."

James will turn 38 next season, which will be his 20th in the league, but he remains keen to help the Lakers win another championship, and insisted that only his physical condition would decide how much longer he remains in the NBA.

"I came here to win a championship and I want to win more," he added. "I accomplished what I wanted to, but I'm still hungry for more.

"I'm confident this organisation wants the same. It's what this organisation has always been about. 

"How long [will] I play? It's up to my health. It's up to my spirit, my motivation ... I don't have a cap on how long I want to play, I don't want to say this or that. 

"My wife doesn't wanna hear that if it's longer than a certain amount of years! But I can still produce at a high level as I showed this year, for sure."

The Los Angeles Lakers have fired head coach Frank Vogel after they missed out on the NBA playoffs.

Vogel stated that he had not been told he would lose his job after the Lakers ended a poor season with a 146-141 win over the Denver Nuggets on Sunday.

The 48-year-old was relieved of his duties by the 17-time NBA champions on Monday, though, almost three years after he was appointed.

Vogel guided the Lakers to the NBA title in his first season in charge two years ago, but they were beaten by the Phoenix Suns in the opening round of the playoffs in 2021.

The Lakers endured a 2021-22 season to forget, finishing 11th in the Western Conference with a 33-49 record, and Vogel has paid the price. 

Lakers vice-president of basketball operations and general manager Rob Pelinka said: "I have a tremendous amount of respect for Frank both on and off the court. 

"Frank is a great coach and a good man. We will forever be grateful to him for his work in guiding us to the 2019-20 NBA championship. 

"This is an incredibly difficult decision to make, but one we feel is necessary at this point. All of us here wish Frank and his wonderful family all the best for the future." 

The Los Angeles Lakers have fired head coach Frank Vogel after they missed out on the NBA playoffs.

Vogel stated that he had not been told he would lose his job after the Lakers ended a poor season with a 146-141 win over the Denver Nuggets on Sunday.

The 48-year-old was relieved of his duties by the 17-time NBA champions on Monday, though, almost three years after he was appointed.

Vogel guided the Lakers to the NBA title in his first season in charge two years ago, but they were beaten by the Phoenix Suns in the opening round of the playoffs in 2021.

The Lakers endured a 2021-22 season to forget, finishing 11th in the Western Conference with a 33-49 record, and Vogel has paid the price. 

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