Earlier in the week, Ian Begley of SNY reported that the New York Knicks have interest in going after Lakers point guard Dennis Schröder in unrestricted free agency this summer. However, it also sounds like he isn’t the only option they’re considering, and they may not be the team to give him the giant offer he’s reportedly seeking.
Begley clarified during a recent appearance on SNY (emphasis mine):
“As they (the Knicks) look ahead towards free agency, obviously the immediate focus is on this playoff push, but they’re also keeping an eye on the offseason. So Schröder is a guard that some of them like, and Lonzo Ball has some support within the organization, but I don’t think it’s uniform support on Lonzo, or probably Dennis either.
“The interesting thing here on Schröder is he’s already turned down, according to ESPN, an extension offer from the Lakers that was around four years and $84 million, so you would think that the Knicks are going to have to make a big offer, around $20 million a year to sign Schröder. I don’t think they would want to get into a bidding war for Schröder, I think they have several options that they will end up considering in the offseason, but Schröder is definitely on that list... He is certainly somebody that the Knicks are giving internal consideration to.”
A couple things to note here. For one thing, the Knicks would be even more incompetent than usual to leak that Schröder was their only target in free agency and give him that much leverage, and they also obviously have contingency plans (every team does), so all of that stuff is not surprising. It is similarly not shocking that they haven’t reached an organization-wide agreement on whether they’d rather have Schröder or Lonzo Ball. They still have plenty of time to debate that, and consensus takes time to reach.
But even if the Knicks do later decide Schröder is their guy and enter into a bidding war for him with the Lakers, Los Angeles has Schröder’s Bird rights, meaning they can both pay him more than any other suitor, and go over the cap to re-sign him.
Now, is there a point where they will decide that the Knicks’ offer is too steep? Maybe, and there is also the possibility that Schröder just prefers the Knicks (or another team). He is an unrestricted free agent, so ultimately the choice will be his. It will be the way he finishes the season that ultimately determines how much money teams will be offering him, though, and how desperate the Lakers will be to keep him.
The Lakers could also still extend Schröder prior to free agency, but he’s made it pretty clear that he’s ready to test the free agent waters for the first time in his career. That’s an understandable desire, and when Schröder goes through with it, it appears the Knicks will be among the teams to give him a look. He and the Lakers could very well decide to reunite anyway, but if the leaks are coming out this early, they clearly won’t be the only team trying to ink him to a new deal this offseason.