As the NBA trade deadline approaches, there is a different kind of transaction that the Los Angeles Lakers may be focused on. Besides finding a few reinforcements for the stretch run of the season, Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka’s biggest task is signing point guard Dennis Schröder to a contract extension.
Since being acquired in an offseason trade, Schröder has routinely shown his importance to the Lakers. The former Thunder sixth man is averaging 14.8 points and 4.7 assists per game. Perhaps the greatest sign of the point guard’s value to the Lakers is that they are 7-2 since Anthony Davis’ Achilles injury when Schröder plays and 0-4 when he does not.
The Lakers presumably know this and will be looking to prevent their starting point guard from hitting the free agency market where he could get poached by another team. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski speculated that it could take a salary of over $20 million per year to keep him purple and gold. Speaking about his desire to get an extension done, Schröder told the media that he wants to be a Laker “for a long time” but that he wants the deal to be “fair” perhaps giving credence to that idea.
Now, that salary might seem like too much for a valuable but not star-level player. But it’s important to keep some things in mind. Firstly, the Lakers have a lot of money doled out to players, meaning it’s difficult for them to replace a player as good as Schröder if he walks away. Secondly, their cap sheet is not actually that messy, compared to other title defenders over the past few years. Their other high-salary players outside of LeBron James and Davis are on team-friendly and tradable contracts. Finally, a large salary figure for Schröder could serve as a valuable ballast in a potential trade to add another star either alongside James and Davis or to replace LeBron once he retires.
This is all to say that yes, the Lakers will negotiate to bring down Schröder’s financial demands as much as possible. But in the end, the team will probably be willing to overpay a little bit to keep their core together while still maintaining flexibility down the line. None of the news circulating around this situation seems to be a red flag that points towards the team losing arguably their third most valuable player.