Russell Westbrook wasn’t surprised by Paul George’s trade request
Russell Westbrook recently insisted in an interview that he harbors no ill will toward Paul George, as he claims he was informed of the impending trade demand by his former Oklahoma City Thunder teammate before it was made.
George of course effectuated a blockbuster deal in July that landed him with the Los Angeles Clippers alongside fellow newcomer Kawhi Leonard. While Westbrook — who aended up being dealt by the Thunder to the Houston Rockets in a subsequent blockbuster deal a few days later — has a history of taking such things as an egregious affront — see Kevin Durant’s OKC departure — he insists that this time around, he was supportive of a teammate’s decision to skip town.
“I can’t be surprised if me and Paul were in communication the whole time,” Westbrook told Rob Mahoney of Sports Illustrated. “So I wouldn’t say I was surprised at all. I’m all for doing what’s best for my teammates. If Paul felt like it was time for him to move on and explore options, then I’mma back him. That’s the type of relationship we have.”
How Westbrook insisted he supported George’s trade request because of their strong bond is interesting in that it stands in stark contrast to how he felt about Durant’s departure.
After all, the friendship between Westbrook and Durant completely deteriorated — to put it mildly — after Durant decided to leave the Thunder and sign with the Golden State Warriors.
Perhaps Westbrook did enjoy a better relationship with Paul than he did with Durant, and because of that he was more supportive of Paul’s trade demand.
On the other hand, it’s entirely plausible that Westbrook learned that sniping at a former teammate after his departure is an exhausting endeavor not worth his time. That said, given Westbrook’s fiery demeanor, outspoken nature and sensitivity to perceived slights, that’s presumably not the case.
In the end, it does not matter all that much since both Westbrook and George are on new teams anyway. Maybe that helped Westbrook view things differently.