While much of the discussion when it comes to individual player performances in the postseason has focused on D’Angelo Russell’s struggles, the counter to that was Dennis Schröder. Starting with his huge performance in the play-in game and stretching through the Western Conference Finals, Schröder was an important part of the Lakers’ playoff push.
As the games increased in intensity, Schröder kept answering the bell and stepping up time and time again. Whether off the bench or in the starting lineup, Schröder became one of the more reliable players on the roster this postseason.
Because of his performance during the playoffs and how much head coach Darvin Ham relied upon him during the regular season, the Lakers want him donning purple and gold next season. According to Jovan Buha of The Athletic, the Lakers would like to bring Dennis back again.
Los Angeles would like to keep Schröder, but they have his non-Bird rights, meaning the most they can offer him in free agency is a projected $3.8 million in his first year unless they’re willing to use one of their midlevel exceptions (most likely the taxpayer midlevel exception, which is projected to be about $5 million annually for a maximum of three years).
It’s been an up-and-down season for Dennis. During the regular season, he became a lightning rod of sorts for the frustrations of fans for a number of reasons. Ultimately, his season was only a tick worse statistically than his previous year in Los Angeles.
The difference was the team performance with the Lakers fledgling below the play-in for the first 50 games this season. Once they started operating like a serious franchise after the deadline, Schröder went from lightning rod to cog in the machine and an important one at that.
The end result of this season was Schröder ending it on a high. While statistically he wasn’t nearly as productive in the postseason, it was the role he played on both ends of the court that made him a valuable piece. His defense against Ja Morant and Steph Curry was as important as anything he did offensively, if not more.
But there will be a lot of moving parts in this free agency.
What does Schröder want in free agency this summer? He spoke about his desire to return this year to make things right after his last departure. But is he looking for a bigger payday that he missed out on before or is he interested in remaining with the Lakers for a likely smaller fee than market value?
What are the Lakers willing to spend on him? Would they use an exception on him, which would take away the chances of them using it on a different, perhaps more needed, player? How valuable do they think he is?
And on that last topic, how much are they willing to give Schröder with Reaves showing plenty of on-ball prowess and D’Angelo Rusell a potential returnee, too? With LeBron James moving to a ballhandler role in big games, is it worth using an exception on Schröder when he’ll be potentially a third or fourth string point guard?
These are all questions the Lakers are going to have to address this offseason on the fly as things will certainly rapidly change throughout, but Dennis certainly earned some consideration after his postseason performance.
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