The Los Angeles Lakers are set to have an extremely busy offseason. Among the toughest decisions will be what to do with Dennis Schröder.
The German point guard’s inaugural season in LA was tumultuous and, by the end of it, largely disappointing. Add to that his reported decision to not accept an extension offer in hopes of securing a bigger contract in free agency plus some social media and press conference drama, and you have a lot of Lakers faithful turning their backs on Schröder.
Still, there is a good chance that the divisive player could come back to the purple and gold in hopes of having a more successful season. If he does, however, he will be looking for a sizable payday, at least according to Armin Andres, the Vice President of the German Basketball Federation, via TalkBasketball.net:
“According to Armin Andres, Vice President of German Basketball Federation (DBB), the point guard is expecting to a deal in the range of $100-$120 million. Andres mentioned the fact as it is the reason why Schroder is not representing Germany this summer as the burden of insuring his future contract of that value is too big on DBB.”
This will surely have a positive response in Lakers land.
Look, there’s some nuance involved in discussing Schröder that you don’t often get on social media or sports talk shows. Here’s what we can earnestly say:
Schröder had a largely good regular season. He averaged 15.4 points and 5.8 assist per game as a full-time starter and was a huge reason why the Lakers were able to hold their heads over water when injuries were ravaging them.
In the playoffs, the results were not as good. Schröder was excellent in two wins and a spurt at the end of game six almost led a miraculous comeback. But in the other losses, the point guard left a lot to be desired and it’s fair to wonder if any team can rely on him to be consistent in such a setting. If you’re being paid 20 million dollars a year, you have to display that consistency.
The other part of this is the Lakers cap situation. Schröder’s leverage may have taken a hit after the playoffs he had but he still has quite a bit of it. The Lakers realistically don’t have the cap space to replace Schröder with a starting level point guard. They have potential replacements on the roster in Alex Caruso and Talen Horton-Tucker but both are free agents looking for their own paydays and unproven in that particular role. The Lakers could theoretically move Schröder in a sign-and-trade for a replacement (say, Kyle Lowry who they attempted to get at the trade deadline) but the receiving team would have to want to pay him that money and receiving a signed-and-traded player would hard cap the Lakers with a lot of signings needing to be completed.
All of that is to say that the Lakers ultimately could bring back Schröder on a big deal, even if they manage to take a bit away from his demands because of a likely lack of other suitors in free agency. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Again, he is a useful player at his best and showed that for most of the year. A large salary also makes him useful as a midseason trade ballast for another star if someone like Damian Lillard forces their way out of their current team. But the question would still be whether Schröder on such a contract would be a positive asset.
It’s certainly not an easy decision for Rob Pelinka and the Lakers. They don’t want to be hampered by a contract no one wants as they try to retool around LeBron James and Anthony Davis. They are also going to be deep in luxury payments and while we as fans should demand that the Lakers open their pockets to keep a championship contender at the top of the league, history tells us that sports franchises often don’t move that way. At the same time, losing Schröder for nothing could be devastating if Caruso and Horton-Tucker are not ready to step up in that role.
The ideal outcome will probably be Dennis Schröder coming back on a more team-friendly deal or perhaps a creative way of facilitating a trade to improve at the position. Either way, it will take some determination for the Lakers to navigate this situation.