Dennis Schroder is set to be a free agent this offseason, and all indications suggest that he won’t be easy to re-sign. The Los Angeles Lakers reportedly offered him a contract extension worth $84 million over four years, the most they could give him at the time under the league’s collective bargaining agreement, and he declined, opting instead to wait until the offseason when he could theoretically earn a bigger deal from either the Lakers or the open market. After an up-and-down first-round series against the Phoenix Suns, many expected him to leave the Lakers this offseason in favor of a team that could feature him more on offense.
But Schroder was adamant after Thursday’s loss to the Suns: not only does he plan to return to the Lakers, but he has very expectations for next season. “End of the day, if everything is good, we’re gonna come back and win a championship next year,” Schroder told reporters after the game. He even claimed that this turbulent season will only make the future sweeter by saying “you got to go through the bulls—- to get to the good s—-.”
The Lakers have a number of other free agents to consider this offseason as well. Talen Horton-Tucker will be restricted, meaning the Lakers can match any offer that another team makes for him. Alex Caruso, Markieff Morris and Wesley Matthews are all unrestricted, so the Lakers do not have match rights. Montrezl Harrell has a player option, so he can choose to opt-out and test free agency, though, given his underwhelming postseason, he may rather take the $11 million on his option for next season. Throw in Schroder and the money the Lakers already have committed to LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Kyle Kuzma and the Lakers would have to absorb one of the biggest luxury tax bills in NBA history to keep last season’s roster together.
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In all likelihood, that won’t be the plan. This series exposed many of this roster’s flaws, some of which involved Schroder. Specifically, the Lakers lacked the outside shooting to space the floor for James and Davis in their weakened states. The Lakers will certainly look to address that weakness, and that may include letting Schroder walk in the name of a better shooter at point guard.
But if Schroder’s price has come down to a more reasonable level, the Lakers are incentivized to try to bring him back. They will be over the salary cap regardless this offseason, but if he walks, they will have no means of replacing him unless they can work out a sign-and-trade with his new team. From that perspective, the Lakers will likely do everything in their power to either keep Schroder or extract some value on his way out the door. By the sound of things, though, Schroder is open to a compromise and if he makes enough of a financial sacrifice to give the Lakers the flexibility to improve, he might just make good on his championship promise after all.