Daniels: Trade Request Had Nothing To Do With Westbrook

Antonio Daniels explains why Paul George and Russell Westbrook are cool with each other – and why no one wants to play for the Knicks

Zach Gelb
July 08, 2019 - 10:58 am
Paul George Russell Westbrook Thunder

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Last July, Paul George signed a four-year $137 million contract with the Oklahoma City Thunder. This July, he requested a trade to the Los Angeles Clippers. 

How? Why? What happened?

“I think the biggest misconception out there is this has something to do with Russell Westbrook, but the Los Angeles Clippers could offer Paul George something the Oklahoma City Thunder couldn’t – and that is the chance for a championship immediately,” Antonio Daniels explained on The Zach Gelb Show. “If you look at Paul George’s post (Saturday) where he’s thanking the Thunder organization and the fans, Russell Westbrook liked his post and responded back, ‘You know what it is.’ Russell Westbrook knew this was coming. He wasn’t caught off guard by this like we were. When I saw the news, I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, what just happened?’ But it seems like Russell Westbrook wasn’t caught off guard by this.”

Daniels, by the way, had no problem with George requesting a trade, especially to the Clippers.

“When a player does what’s in his best interest, he’s vilified for it,” Daniels said. “He’s disloyal. When an organization does what’s in their best interest, it’s a business. It’s a business all the way around, but players get vilified for doing what they feel like is best for their career.”

Westbrook, meanwhile, is back to being a one-man band in Oklahoma City – that is, of course, if he stays there. Daniels could see the Heat making a move for Westbrook, who could then play with another star in Jimmy Butler. Otherwise, Westbrook is looking at another early postseason exit in 2020 – assuming the Thunder even make the playoffs.

Can Westbrook, 30, win a title as the best player on a team?

“If Russell Westbrook is there alone, no, I don’t think he can,” Daniels said. “But I don’t the anybody can really do that alone without help. Even with Kawhi Leonard, he was the guy, but it took KD going down. It took Klay Thompson tearing his ACL. But in today’s NBA, it is almost impossible to be a lone star and to lead a team to a championship. Kawhi Leonard had so much pressure and responsibility on his shoulders, it’s crazy. Why do you think he entertained going to the Lakers and playing with LeBron and Anthony Davis? Guys don’t want to do it alone anymore. That’s very difficult to do.”

The Knicks, meanwhile, completely whiffed in free agency. It isn’t difficult to see why.

“There is no one out there that is chomping at the bit to join the Knicks,” Daniels said. “You have to look at the organization from the top. It has been dysfunctional for a while. They’ve done Patrick Ewing wrong. They’ve done Charles Oakley wrong. No, I’m sorry, I am in no rush to join an organization like that. I remember when I came into the league in 1997, it was all about market size. It was all about L.A. and New York and Chicago. But with the addition of social media, guys understand they can grow their brand wherever. With social media, you don’t need to be in a large market to grow your brand. Guys understand that. I’m not joining a dysfunctional organization to grow my brand when I can join a very healthy organization in a small market and grow my brand there.”

Click below to listen to Daniels’ interview in its entirety.