The Lakers Get Richer

Dennis Schröder’s career took another interesting turn when he was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers for Danny Green and the number 28 pick in the NBA Draft. The trade cannot be consummated until after the draft on Wednesday but both Sam Presti and Rob Pelinka have agreed to the terms.  Oklahoma City unloads salary which was priority number one;  Green will likely be waived. The Lakers will get another ball-handler, three-point shotmaker, and creator who can get his own bucket.  Schröder is insurance for the possibility of losing Rajon Rondo and he fills a hole if Rondo returns.

Schröder has played with All-Stars like Chris Paul, Al Horford, and Paul Millsap. He’s played in 46 playoff games including one conference final. He’s only 27 years old. But every player has baggage and Schröder is no exception. He has a fractious side and can be a little moody.  Rumors swirled before the trade (translating a German interview) that he didn’t want to play for either Los Angeles team but here he is on the last year of a deal. If he plays his cards right it may end in an NBA championship.

In 2019-20 Schröder was a key member of a 3-guard OKC offense with Chris Paul leading the way and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander adding support. Unlike OKC, the Lakers weren’t as richly blessed in the guard spot as they used a mismatched version of Alex Caruso, Avery Bradley, Rajon Rondo. Repeating would be next to impossible with the same roster that managed to win in the bubble. With the return of Steph Curry to the conference, the Lakers had to fix their glaring holes at point guard.

Last year was the best year of Dennis Schröder’s career and that could mean two things. Either he is in his basketball prime and knows exactly what he can do. Or, it was a career year.

Schröder entering unrestricted free agency in 2020-21 bodes well for the Lakers getting the best out of him now. Last season in OKC, Schröder had a career-high in field goal percentage (46.9%), 3-point attempts (5.0), 3-point percentage (38.5%), 2-point percentage (53.4%), defensive rebounds (3.3), total rebounds (3.6).  He’s never been a great defender and you’d imagine in Frank Vogel’s system he’ll improve.

In the last two years, he has come off the bench but the two years prior, in Atlanta, he started. His rebounding didn’t change much but both years he averaged over six assists, and his last year in Atlanta he averaged 19.4 points. Consistently he can do what no one on the Lakers managed to do without a wing and a prayer, consistently be a third scorer, and alleviate some of the pressure off of LeBron James and Anthony Davis.

In a similar situation that Danny Green found himself in the closing seconds of Game 5 of the NBA Finals, Dennis Schröder would have had multiple options. 1, Take a three as Green did. 2. Dribble, crossover, and finish with a mid-range jumper. 3. Drive with speed to the rim. 4. Dish off a drive. His versatility gives the Lakers options they just didn’t have a year ago.

The challenge for the Lakers given their insistence on making themselves a possible target for Giannis Antetokounmpo in the summer of 2021 is to find quality talent on expiring contracts. Schröder’s contract was a perfect match and his skill set is what they desperately need.

At 17, Dennis Schröder played professionally in a German league before being drafted in the 2013 draft (17th pick) by the Atlanta Hawks where he understudied behind Jeff Teague. He was a member of the Atlanta Hawks team that won 60 games in the 2014-15 season. When the Hawks went rebuilding mode he was traded to OKC and now OKC is in rebuilding mode. This is Schröder’s best chance at a ring before he cashes in during the summer of 2021. He is in the last year of a $70 million dollar contract and he gets to play with LeBron James.