The Lakers traded for Dennis Schröder nearly two months ago, which in 2020-21 time feels like at least three years ago. But as it turns out, two months isn’t a lot of time to pack up your things and move your family into a new area during a pandemic.
The reason this is relevant? It’s because as Schröder continues to adjust to a new role, on a new team, with new teammates amidst a protracted training camp and limited practices, he’s also been working on another project: Finding a place to live.
“I found something, finally!” Schröder said on Friday, visibly relieved. He said he’ll be moving in to his new digs with his family soon.
“We’re in an Airbnb still. It still doesn’t feel like home, but in two or three weeks I’m going to be settled,” Schröder said. “Then things get easier.”
Things looked pretty easy for Schröder at the start of the season, when he averaged 17.6 points 5.2 rebounds and 5.2 assists while shooting 50.7% from the field and 38.9% from three over the team’s first five games. He tailed off a bit over the team’s last five, though, averaging 10.8 points, 5.2 assists and 3 rebounds while shooting 33.3% and 20% from the field and from three, respectively.
The point of outlining all that isn’t just to show that Schröder has been up and down. It’s to highlight that he’s been doing all of it while barely having any time to adjust to his new situation, on or off the floor. Even he admits he’s not where he wants to be yet.
“I still need a couple more games I believe to get more settled and comfortable around my teammates,” Schröder said. “We’ve got a great group of guys, but I’m still trying to find my way and finding the best way to help my team win. I just need a couple more games.”
The Lakers have done what they can to try and make his adjustment process easier off the floor. The front office is already offering him an extension. Locker room leader Jared Dudley has tried so hard to make Schröder feel welcome that the guard is already calling Dudley one of the best teammates he’s ever had. LeBron James has desperately attempted to make his nickname for Schröder, “Dennis the Menace,” a thing (it is not a thing).
On the floor it’s been a similar story. Frank Vogel has talked up Schröder’s speed and defense at every turn, and given him the starting job he wanted. The coaching staff has also continued a strong trend of solid communication, empowering Schröder to be who he is, instead of trying to force him to be something he’s not.
“When I came in the first day, Frank Vogel, the coach, the assistant coaches, they told me ‘go out there and play, we got you for a reason,’” Schröder said. “They trust me, and I just try to make the best decisions for my team. But at the end of the day, we’ve been together for like three or four weeks, so everybody is trying to feel each other out and see what everybody likes.
“It’s the same for me. This is a new team, a new organization, new coaches, everything is new for me... I need some time,” Schröder continued. “I need a couple more games and it will be fine.”
A little bit of patience is more than warranted, for those reasons and more. As Wesley Matthews and other Lakers have talked about, this is a different type of year than any player has faced before, both on and off the floor. With everything going on, Schröder needing a bit of time to fully ease into a different role than he’s ever played before — the starting guard on a team with two superstars who need the ball, with a significantly lower usage rate (22.7%) than he had last season (27.2%), and his lowest since his rookie year (19%) — is completely fair. That the flashes have been there of how dynamic he can be for this team is an encouraging enough sign, just 10 games in. Even if you don’t like how he’s looked, we should all at least be able to agree that we can’t fully judge Schröder’s play until he’s moved out of an Airbnb, right?
But for anyone looking for an opportunity to roll out the welcome wagon and let Schröder know how happy Lakers fans are to have him here in the meantime, just don’t expect him to let you know where he’s moving, as one out-of-town reporter on Friday found out.
“HELLLLLLLLLLLL NO!” Schröder said, laughing after being asked if he’d like to share what area he was heading to, before realizing he should probably be more polite about it. “Sorry. No.”
The answer was about his residence, but it just as easily could have been some continuing candor about whether or not he’s fully adjusted to his role yet. At least on both fronts, he’s continuing to make progress. For now, that’s all anyone can reasonably ask for.