Dennis Schröder was the biggest name in free agency for less than ideal reasoning. After reportedly turning down a deal for four years, $84 million, he watched the Los Angeles Lakers pivot to Russell Westbrook to run point next season. Schröder ultimately settled on a one-year deal for $5.9 million with the Boston Celtics.
In an alternate universe, Schröder and the Lakers made the commitment to each other. And in a world where he took the money, it would open up a number of possibilities for the franchise. Let’s examine a few of those and let our minds be free.
Buddy Hield Still A Go
With Schröder on deck, the Lakers would look to upgrade their backcourt still. As reported, their proposed deal for Buddy Hield would be completed for a package of Kyle Kuzma and Montrezl Harrell. This means no Westbrook, obviously. It would also create the domino effect of Malik Monk and Wayne Ellington falling out of the options of becoming Lakers. Kent Bazemore would still join up for the veteran’s minimum. Even without the help of Westbrook recruiting, Rob Pelinka convinces Trevor Ariza to come back home. Carmelo Anthony is also added. Unfortunately, Alex Caruso is still lost in the same shuffle out of Hollywood.
More Shooting & Size
Hield’s acquisition would leave many questions for Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. Being moved in the Westbrook trade means that he was likely on the board to be with another team once the season started. His salary of $13,038,862, per Sportrac.com, fits as a great deal. You can also add in KCP’s durability and shooting as a positive for most teams. The Lakers could address their lack of perimeter size with a trade of KCP for Terrence Ross.
Ross is a 6’6 wing that brings the ability to get his own shot. He’s also a career 36.7 percent shooter from long range. The Lakers and Ross have been linked for quite some time. He was one of their targets in the summer of 2019, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski:
If the Lakers decide to break up the money, they’re interested in several combinations of players, including Toronto’s Danny Green, Orlando Magic guard Terrence Ross, Portland Trail Blazers guard Seth Curry, free agent Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and several other free agents with strong shooting ability.
Damian Lillard In Play
Despite committing to Schröder, the Lakers could still look to the stars. With one nice-sized deal on the books, the Lakers do another. Presumably, they’d still retain the services of Talen Horton-Tucker at the same deal of three years for $32 million.
Deals for THT, Schröder, and Kendrick Nunn, who still lands with the Lakers for the taxpayer mid-level, are all workable to fit Damian Lillard’s salary. A move like this would only be done with the direction of Lillard. Like we’ve seen with Anthony Davis and James Harden, stars could dictate their way to their preferred destination. For what it’s worth, Dame has created the whispers of this spot a long time ago.
If blazers said they didn't want me… Utah Jazz or Lakers https://t.co/jep3V9qRsS
— Damian Lillard (@Dame_Lillard) June 14, 2017
Your 2021-22 Los Angeles Lakers
With Schröder locked in and a few moves sprinkled in, let’s take a look at the depth chart.
Guards: Dennis Schröder, Buddy Hield, Kendrick Nunn
Wings: Talen Horton-Tucker, Terrence Ross, Kent Bazemore
Forward/Centers: LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Trevor Ariza, Carmelo Anthony, Marc Gasol, Dwight Howard
There aren’t too many differences between this roster and the one they have now outside of the backcourt. Arguably, they are slightly better suited with shooting to pair with LeBron’s play-making. They lose the star power that we hope to see in Westbrook. We will never know the iteration of a Dennis Schröder-led Lakers team, but our imaginations can now run wild.