As the Los Angeles Lakers looked to make additions in the 2020 NBA buyout market, it meant they would have to release current players to make room.
With the Lakers viewed by many as the championship favorite, a role player leaving them in the middle of the 2019-20 NBA season by choice would seem to be a surprising move. And it was undoubtedly a difficult one to make for Daniels, but one that he felt was necessary.
Daniels recently spoke about this tough decision with Mark Berman of The Roanoke Times, saying that he almost decided to stay with them:
“Nobody wants to leave the Lakers. Nobody wants to leave that type of organization, especially when you’re winning. You feel like you’ve got a team that can win a championship, so I almost stayed,” he said.
It couldn’t have been easy for Daniels to leave the Lakers in the midst of a legit championship push. Combined with the chemistry of the roster and how close everyone on the team was, it makes sense that Daniels went back and forth on the decision.
In the end, Daniels wound up with the Denver Nuggets who were also one of the top teams in the Western Conference:
“But I made a decision to go to the No. 2 or No. 3 team in the [Western Conference]. It was just to have something guaranteed to where I know I’m good in the playoffs — because that’s where you make your name, that’s where you make your money.”
For someone like Daniels, who has been a fringe rotation player for much of his career, a great performance in the 2020 NBA playoffs could be the difference in a minimum deal and a multi-year deal worth much more. For as great as the Lakers were, there was no way he would get consistent minutes, which likely would lead him to hoping for just another minimum deal in the 2020 NBA free agency.
This was Daniels’ seventh NBA season and he wants the chance to earn a significant deal which is more than understandable. The Nuggets offer him a far more significant role on a team who could potentially make a deep playoff run as well so while the decision was tough, it was certainly understandable.