There are few things the Lakers love more than themselves because nepotism is a hell of a drug. That’s rarely more evident than during free agency where they’ve made a habit, largely unintentionally (I think), of signing former Lakers.
That practice may be put to its toughest test, though, with the latest rumor linking Dennis Schröder, a former Laker who didn’t leave on the best of terms, to a return.
Let’s take a look at that and more in the latest rumors and reports.
A “tuff” choice
Schröder’s time in Los Angeles contained multiple extremes. At one point, the Lakers offered him an $80-million extension, but by the end of his tenure, he was replaced via trade by Russell Westbrook and he drifted off into free agency with a wimper.
Time may heal all wounds, though, as he’s campaigning on Instagram for a second chance in the purple and gold.
Former Laker Dennis Schroder wants to run it back with the lakers. As you can see in the screenshot. Dennis has experience playing under Darvin Ham’s coaching when he was with the Hawks. #LakeShow pic.twitter.com/4iBO4fTdAM— Washed LakersvsHaters ️ (@notlakersgm) July 19, 2022
Given the Lakers’ current roster, it doesn’t make much sense to spend the last roster spot on a backup point guard with a shaky 3-point shot, something that doesn’t really address any of the team’s needs. They need wings and shooting and Schröder is neither a wing nor a shooter.
Now, should the team trade multiple players to acquire Kyrie Irving and/or Buddy Hield or Eric Gordon, perhaps Schröder would be a better fit. But running it back right now doesn’t make much sense. Free agency is long, though, and things could change quickly if that door remains open, as the Lakers showed at the trade deadline last season.
A missed window?
Did the Lakers miss their window to get a Kyrie Irving trade done? There sure seems to be a lot of signs indicating as much. In his latest episode of “Please Don’t Aggregate This,” Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report discussed Kyrie’s future and indicated he thinks it’ll be in Brooklyn.
“The Lakers and Kyrie thing, like I’ve been saying all along, it’s not going to happen in a two-team deal and I’m still struggling to see a situation — I know the Russ-Utah stuff has picked up ever since I mentioned that last week. Even in that hypothetical scenario, if Russ goes to Utah for two picks, are the Lakers going to get enough to satisfy them while also giving enough back to Brooklyn, I just don’t see it happening. I really don’t. I really do think Kyrie, at this point in time, like if you’re putting Vegas odds... the overwhelming favorite for his place to be playing next year is Brooklyn to me.”
In the immediate aftermath of Kevin Durant’s trade request, the Lakers attempted to capitalize on the chaos to nab Kyrie. But with things having calmed down, cooler heads have prevailed and it seems the Nets are willing to see things out to get the best deal, which likely does not include acquiring Russell Westbrook.
To that point, though, if the Lakers sweeten the pot enough, it could still get done, it seems. In his latest newsletter, Kyle Goon of the OC Register stated the Nets’ asking price when it comes to draft picks (emphasis mine).
“This deluge of uncertainty comes at a delicate moment: The Lakers may have a window open to trade for Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving, a mercurial player who nevertheless is immensely talented in a way that compliments James – they have an NBA title together to prove it. Sources have told Southern California News Group that the price for Irving (who has his own limited market for his services) would involve at least one of the two tradeable first-round draft picks the Lakers have in 2027 or 2029, as well as more second-round draft compensation.”
But the organization has been reluctant to part with their best future assets – a stance owner Jeanie Buss underscored in an interview with NBA.com last week: ‘We’re not making change for the sake of change. It has to be good, basketball decisions that help us now and doesn’t compromise our ability to deal in the future.’”
While the ship seems to have sailed on Kyrie, there is the possibility of it coming back around if the Lakers change their stance on mortgaging their future to some degree. If they choose not to do that, though, there are other options possible on the trade market, though one of those likely will not include a noteworthy team....
No New York state of mind
Also in his podcast, Fischer discussed Russ going to the Knicks, a team known for its... questionable decision-making when it comes to roster-building in the past. With a new front office, though, it doesn't appear they’re prone to some of those same gaffes.
Fischer specifically addressed a scenario in which, if the Knicks acquire Donovan Mitchell, they could look to move Julius Randle’s large salary for Russ’ expiring. Not only has he not heard that as a possibility, though, Fischer has gotten a much different response from the Knicks when mentioning Russ.
“Any time I’ve brought up Russ to Knicks people, they’ve immediately shot it down and laughed about it, right? That was before they had Jalen Brunson and that was definitely before they (could) have Jalen Brunson and Donovan Mitchell and if they’re taking Mitchell’s long-term deal after adding Jalen on a very expensive four-year deal, Randle’s already got four very expensive years up next and if you don’t think Randle’s an ideal fit next to those guys...and in a scenario where there is something worked out with Russ and the Lakers and they got picks back from getting off his long-term salary for an expiring deal in Russ they can just buy out, that makes sense to me. I haven’t heard it but all that does make sense to me.”
That type of deal makes sense in swapping out long-term money for short-term, but that specific deal requires multiple things to happen before it even becomes possible. That’s also not taking into account the sour note on which Randle left the Lakers as well.
It feels very unlikely to happen, but it is the type of deal that remains possible in the right situation for Russ this summer and even, potentially, moving into the season.