Lakers fans were smitten with Dennis Schröder early on in the season, as he appeared to give the team a much-needed playmaker alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis. His point-of-attack defense only furthered Lakers fans’ positive opinions of him, as the impending free agent seemed like he could be a good, young, long-term fit for the Lakers and their two superstars.
Fast forward to now, and Lakers fans appear to be out on Schröder returning following his dismal performance in the Lakers’ first-round defeat to the Suns. Fans might be willing to overlook his poor playoff performance if it weren’t for him reportedly turning down a four-year, $84 million extension from the Lakers in the middle of the season. It also probably doesn’t help that over the course of about eight hours between Thursday morning and Thursday evening, Schröder removed (then added then removed again) “PG for the Los Angeles Lakers” from his Instagram bio.
Even with all of that said, Schröder expressed after Game 6 that he wants to return for the Lakers and help them win a championship in 2022 (per Christian Rivas/Silver Screen & Roll).
Schröder: "I've read so many things on Instagram … the Lakers, they didn't do nothing to me … I want to be here and win a championship."
— Christian Rivas (@RadRivas) June 4, 2021
There’s a certain two players on the Lakers that I’m sure plenty of players around the league want to play with. You could say that Schröder considers himself one of those players as well.
Schroder thinks that he’ll be more comfortable playing alongside LeBron and AD, who he called the best two players in the world, in the second year with them.
— Lakers Nation (@LakersNation) June 4, 2021
Dennis Schroder on playing with LeBron James: "I still can't get it in my head, I play with the best basketball player in the world. … I can't wait for more"
— Ryan Ward (@RyanWardLA) June 4, 2021
It’s not inconceivable that Dennis Schröder could return for the Lakers and become their clear third-best player on a 2022 championship run. Plenty of people have brought up the Lakers’ 21-6 record before Anthony Davis (and then LeBron James shortly after that) went down with his long injury. When people have brought that up, they are bringing it up to show just how impactful Davis and LeBron are when they’re healthy on the floor together, but honestly, Davis wasn’t even playing that well during that 21-6 run. Schröder’s on-ball defense played a huge role in the Lakers’ early season success, paired with his 14.1 points per game alongside LeBron’s 25.6 and Davis’ 22.9 prior to the February 14th game against the Nuggets where Davis strained his right calf.
Obviously, with the fact that Dennis Schröder reportedly turned down that four-year, $84 million contract, you’d expect him to want more than that this offseason. After a poor series against the Suns that saw him score 0 points in the series-turning Game 5, it’ll be interesting to see if the Lakers or any team in the NBA wants to give him that. Either way, the Lakers showed they were definitely taking his long-term prospects into considering from the jump when they traded a first-round pick for him. If there’s mutual interest on both sides, I’d expect a deal to get done.