In December, Dennis Schröder turned down a two-year extension offer from the Lakers, opting to wait until Feb. 16, when the team could offer him significantly more money and years. At the time, Schröder said that he would “love to” re-sign, and that he just wanted the offer to be “fair.” It’s a point he reiterated in January when saying that his goal was to remain with the Lakers long-term.
Since then, however, Feb. 16 has come and gone with no leaks about any extension talks. Until last night, the most substantial comments Dennis had made about it came on Instagram, when he and his agent shared one of our tweets joking that he was about to get PAID after the Lakers went on a mini run when he returned from a four-game absence due to contact tracing. The team lost every game while he was out, and promptly one their next two when he was back.
On Thursday night, Schröder went a little deeper, repeating that he’d like to stay with the Lakers and again using the word “fair” to describe the type of offer he wanted.
Dennis Schroder on an extension: "At the end of the day, I want to be a Laker for a long time. But I've always said I want it to be fair."— Kyle Goon (@kylegoon) March 19, 2021
Adds later: "I don't know what's going to happen. ... But I don't want to think about it too much and not play the right way as well."
Dennis Schroder says "everything is just perfect here so far" and he's been especially impressed with how the Lakers do everything as a team. "Rob Pelinka, I think he's got good going on here. He's treating me the right way. Coaches, I love the coaches."— Kyle Goon (@kylegoon) March 19, 2021
It’s pretty clear what’s going on here: Schröder very transparently wants to stay — he closed on a house the week he became extension eligible — but it’s also obvious that whatever the Lakers are offering, he feels like he’s worth more, and is potentially willing to enter unrestricted free agency this summer to get it if the Lakers disagree.
So how much money does he want? The Lakers can offer a four-year deal starting at $18.6 million right now, but Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN — who is fairly plugged in with Schröder’s agent, Alex Saratsis, who also represents Giannis Antetokounmpo — said on a podcast recently that it would cost “well over $20 million a year” to keep Schröder. If that’s who much Schröder is actually seeking, the Lakers may have to wait until this summer to try and re-sign him in free agency, when they do have his Bird rights (because they traded for him) and can go over the cap to keep him.
Until then, however, Schröder’s teammates don’t feel like the ongoing uncertainty about what his future will hold has affected his play.
“I think he’s handled it great. We as his teammates have gotten no sense that he’s been dealing with that. He’s been playing, coming to work and playing great basketball despite having to deal with extension talks,” said Lakers star LeBron James. “That’s for his side, his agent and the front office to all figure out. Us as his teammates, obviously we support him on the floor, and obviously we support him off the court and things of that nature, but the business side, that’s separate from us.”
And Schröder has been playing great, helping to keep the Lakers afloat on both ends of the floor while Anthony Davis has been out, giving the Lakers another capable scorer and playmaker besides James on offense and a voracious point-of-attack defender on the other end. So while the Lakers didn’t give up some ridiculous treasure chest of a package to get him — Danny Green’s contract and a first-rounder — they did use some of their limited trade assets to get him in uniform, and given their cap situation, it’s not like they can offer a potential replacement for Schröder anywhere near the same amount of money.
It’s not him or another point guard of his caliber. It’s him, or grabbing a point guard off the scrap heap.
Keeping Schröder could help lead to the Lakers having the highest tax bill in league history, but the good news is that team governor Jeanie Buss recently said she’s willing to pay the tax to keep a contender around James. That’s good news for anyone rooting for the Lakers’ success. Now all they need to do is find a middle ground with Schröder. Even if it’s not during the season, it seems like a fair bet they will, because it’s pretty clear that everyone has appreciated the skill and energy he’s brought to this team, and enjoyed having him around.
“We hope he’s happy here, our guys really like him, our coaching staff really enjoys coaching him. he’s got a great energy about him, a great spirit, and a great competitive fire that he brings to our team on both sides of the ball,” Vogel said. “He’s off to a great start as a Laker.”
And if the two sides can reach a deal Schröder thinks is “fair,” then this season is just the beginning.