Dennis Schröder and the Los Angeles Lakers have pretty clearly hit an impasse in contract extension talks. After Schröder rejected both of the team’s proposals this season, most recently a four-year, $84 million deal that is the most the team can offer until the summer and the Lakers subsequently shopped him at the NBA trade deadline, Schröder told reporters that he wanted to test unrestricted free agency in July.
“I for sure want to be a Laker, but I still want to see my options,” Schröder said then. “After eight years, it’s my first time seeing what other people, other clubs have interest in me. That’s what I said too, but nobody mentioned that in the media. Everybody’s saying I just want to sign long-term with the Lakers.”
But if that didn’t make Schröder’s intentions clear enough for you, he’s happy to let you know what they are directly on Instagram, too. And much more politely than Kevin Durant would:
Yes, that comment is real. I checked. I don’t know if it will still be up when you read this story.
Does “in the Summer i will sign” mean sign with the Lakers? Not necessarily, but it’s probably best to not overanalyze an eight-word Instagram comment for whether it signals if Schröder will be with the Lakers long-term or not. What is abundantly clear at this point is that he has no intention of extending with the Lakers before the summer. Maybe that changes, but considering that they’ve already offered him the most they’re legally allowed to right now, it seems unlikely.
As previously covered in this space, beyond the chance to see what teams have interest in him, the other appeal for Schröder in testing free agency is pretty clear: He can get a lot more money in July than the Lakers can offer right now.
From my explainer yesterday:
A common question in the aftermath of all this has been something along the lines of “is some team really going to pay Schröder the $20-plus million annually that he’s seeking?” The answer: Maybe. But even if they won’t, the reason Schröder thinks he can ask for it is not just that he probably feels that he’s worth it. It’s also that he and his camp are more than aware that the Lakers don’t really have other options.
The choices for the team are not “keep Schröder” or “offer that same money to Montrezl Harrell, Andre Drummond or some other free agent.” The reason? They are going to be over the cap this summer unless they basically let every single member of their team go, which means that they don’t have much money to offer players who they don’t have Bird rights on.
By virtue of trading for Schröder, they can exceed the cap to re-sign him to a deal up to the maximum allowable salary for players of 7-9 years of experience: 30% of the cap, which would be $32 million this season. That’s not to say they will offer Schröder that much, it’s just an acknowledgement that they can offer him more in free agency than they can currently.
Schröder doesn’t need to be worth that much, and the Lakers are unlikely to max him. But the difference between the max in the summer and the max they can offer now is significant enough to provide some negotiating wiggle room in free agency.
And at this point, Schröder has made it plain that he’s determined to test free agency and bet on himself, to prove to the Lakers that they have to overpay to keep him because they can’t afford to lose him. His intentions are transparent. So please don’t be that guy commenting on his Instagram posts telling him what to do. We’re just going to have to wait until this summer and see. That much, at the very least, is pretty obvious now.