If you had your money on the defending NBA champions making the first big move of the NBA offseason, congratulations! I hope it’s enough money to buy a PS5. If you were shocked to see the report that the Los Angeles Lakers are trading Danny Green and the No. 28 pick to the Oklahoma City Thunder for Dennis Schröder, you’re not alone.
For one, most people, including Green, thought that the Lakers were just going to run it back with the same roster from last season, with few exceptions. The people that didn’t think the Lakers were going to run it back, like me, thought they’d go after bigger fish like Victor Oladipo or DeMar DeRozan. That’s not to say Schröder isn’t a big fish — he is, but his name might not hold the same weight as two former All-Stars among more casual fans of the league.
Now, with Green’s $15.4 million contract headed to Oklahoma City, we can safely assume the Lakers are no longer players for Oladipo, DeRozan or anyone who will make more than $15 million during the 2020-21 season because the next biggest contract on their books (that isn’t a player option) belongs to Kyle Kuzma, and he’ll only make $3.6 million next season. Does that mean the Lakers are done making calls to other teams? Not exactly.
The first order of business the Lakers will likely tend to in the immediate aftermath of the Schröder trade is the 2020 NBA Draft.
The Lakers don’t technically have a selection in Wednesday’s draft anymore because they only had the one pick, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see that change within the coming days. They clearly have confidence in their ability to draft late into the second round and if there’s someone they like, it’s safe to assume they’ll trade into the draft like they did with Talen Horton-Tucker last year.
The day after the draft, Nov. 19, is the deadline for most players to exercise or decline the player options in their contract. We already know that Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Rajon Rondo are expected to enter unrestricted free agency, but the futures of McGee and Avery Bradley are less certain.
Assuming Bradley and McGee both opt in, the Lakers will have an additional $9.2 million they can send out in a trade. They can also keep them around, of course, but that number — in addition to Quinn Cook’s non-guaranteed $3 million salary — is notable because it makes a trade package revolved around Kyle Kuzma more realistic.
That being said, it’s more likely that Bradley and Kuzma stick around now than it was before because they both offer the Lakers some defense on the perimeter, something they lost a decent amount of by trading Green. Cook and McGee are more expendable, but it’s hard to imagine the Lakers getting much back for them in a trade.
Unless the Lakers are committed to opening up the non-taxpayer mid-level exception, it’s safe to assume they’ll be on the roster on opening night. In other words, the Lakers are probably done making splashy trades this offseason.