Dennis Schröder has a big summer ahead of him. After starting every game he played in for the the Lakers during his lone season with the team (so far), the diminutive speed demon will enter unrestricted free agency. As a result, he reportedly told the German Basketball Federation that his desire to seek a contract in the range of $100 million or $120 million would not allow him to play for his home country in the Olympics this summer, mostly because he could not get an insurance policy for that amount of money during a global pandemic.
But after watching all of the team’s qualifying games in Split, Croatia, Schröder told German outlet Zeit Online that he was inspired, and wants to suit up for Deutschen Basketball Bundes in Tokyo (Disclaimer: This article was translated from German to English by Google, so the wording may not be exact, but you get the gist).
“If there is a possibility, then that would of course be great,” said Schröder after the 75:64 in the final of the qualifying tournament in Split against Brazil, which cleared the way to Japan.
Schröder would like to go to Tokyo.
“I’m always available, but my situation is not that easy. But I hope we can sort that out by then. My agent has to do his job now. The German national team has done its job, let’s see,” said Schröder, who had supported the German team in all four games as a spectator in the hall, full of emotions.
Schröder told Zeit Online that his agent, Alex Saratsis, and his family will also help him determine whether or not he’ll play for Germany in Tokyo, if he’s welcomed onto the team. He and the German Basketball Federation previously could not come to an agreement on how much money he would be insured in the case of injury ahead of free agency. Germany reportedly could only offer approximately $10 million Euros in insurance, but according to Zeit Online, “that was not enough for Schröder before the tournament in Split.”
Schröder’s comments make it seem like he is now reconsidering that decision, but he will only be able to join the team as an injury replacement at this point:
With his well-intentioned words that arose out of emotion, Schröder put the association and Rödl in a mess. Instead of the almost sensational Olympic qualification, the first in 13 years, almost everyone talked only about Schröder on Monday.
His name was missing from the list published by the German Olympic Sports Confederation. The DOSB nominated exactly the twelve players who were successful in Split. In the event that a player injured himself, Schröder could still move up in the course of a so-called late athlete replacement, once the insurance question had been clarified.
Schröder being willing to risk injury by committing now after bowing out previously is something of a surprise, especially considering that he turned down a four-year, $84 million extension offer from the Lakers to test free agency. That led the Lakers to shop him at the trade deadline, and while Schröder has said he wants to come back, him being able to do so for the kind of money he wants seems less likely if he does end up getting hurt while playing in the Olympics.
But perhaps this is less a financial decision than an emotional one. Maybe Schröder just really does want to stand with his countrymen and compete in an Olympics that should be as wide-open as any with the United States not sending its A-team. Schröder is incredibly competitive, and he may just want to be part of what Germany appears to be building with its run to qualifying for the games. That said, the team may not want to boot someone who did commit for someone who didn’t. That’s no slight to Schröder, that’s just often how these national programs operate.
We’ll see what happens, but if Schröder does suit up, how he looks in international play will be worth watching as the Lakers continue to determine how much he’s worth in free agency. And hey, at least it would give us another Laker — besides Marc Gasol — to watch in the Olympics.
And while we’re here, shouts to former Baby Lakers Moe Wagner and Isaac Bonga, who actually did suit up for Germany in their Olympic qualifying run. It’s cool to see those two showing what they can do on an international stage.