With the February 10 trade deadline fast approaching, the Boston Celtics are on the clock to make another trade, even if it’s to get below the luxury tax line.
Dennis Schroder has consistently been linked with a move away from the Celtics in recent weeks. The reasoning behind moving Schroder is logical. The veteran point guard is blocking Payton Pritchard’s opportunity for developmental minutes, and his contract is due to expire at the end of the season, so why not move on from him now and get clear of the tax line?
“I don’t think they’re looking for something huge, I think you take his money, they’ll be happy with that. For those second-round picks that never get conveyed, you know? But if you keep him here, is he in the way of what you’re trying to do, too much of a lure to reach for (for Ime Udoka), too much of a lure to not play? I don’t think they’d ask a whole lot. But they do have the interest in getting below the cap and getting below the luxury tax,” NBA Insider Steve Bulpett noted on a recent episode of Heavy on the NBA.
We’re all aware of Schroder’s strong start to the season in Boston and have marveled at his scoring ability when attacking the rim. But the fact remains that Boston’s offense often stagnates when the veteran guard comes off the bench, as Schroder’s style of play is predicated on half-court high pick-and-roll sets, which doesn’t bode well for Ime Udoka’s vision of a high paced offense.
Schroder Could Be Difficult To Move
Being willing to trade a player and finding a team receptive to trade are two totally different things. For example, the Philadelphia 76ers have been ready to trade Ben Simmons for months at this point, but no team has been receptive to their asking price.
“OK, you put Schroder on the market, what are you getting back? Everyone knows what their situation is, that they’re not likely to keep him, that he is a rental, and whoever gets him (in a trade) is going to be in that situation, they’re not going to be able to keep him. Are you looking at maybe a couple second-round picks? At that point, if you’re the Celtics, do you say I’d rather just have the guy on the team in case we make a run, we’ve still got him. It’s going to be tough for them to drum up a big market for Dennis Schroder,” Heavy.com’s Sean Deveney said in a recent episode of Heavy on the NBA.
It’s worth remembering that the issues Boston faces in retaining Schroder beyond this season would be the same for any team who traded for him. Most front offices aren’t willing to risk the harmony of their locker room or to part with assets for a player that will likely walk in six months. And that’s the issue the Celtics currently face in finding a buyer for the former sixth-man-of-the-year candidate.
However, Boston could look to teams on the precipice of a playoff run and sell them on Schroder’s impact from the bench. Or, the Celtics could target teams in need of a guard, such as the Denver Nuggets or Cleveland Cavaliers. So, despite the roadblocks, there are still avenues Brad Stevens can explore.
It’s Time to Develop Payton Pritchard
Since entering the NBA, Payton Pritchard has shown incredible shooting range and a high-level burst of pace. We’ve all seen the Oregon native pull up from the logo to drain a catch-and-shoot three, and we’ve seen him put defenders on skates with his dribbling skills. Yet, Pritchard continues to find himself resigned to spot minutes.
While it’s clear that Schroder is the more talented player at this point, there’s a growing opinion that Pritchard is better suited to the style of basketball Udoka wants his team to play. Furthermore, the sophomore guard’s shooting skills would alleviate some of the Celtics’ struggles from deep – they’re currently 21st in the NBA for three-point percentage.
Of course, moving on from Schroder would mean the Celtics are committing to developing some of their younger talents for the remainder of the season, and that will likely be based on the team’s on-court performances over the next two weeks. But, should an opportunity arise, which allows the team to acquire draft picks and get under the tax, we should expect them to consider it.
Schroder has produced mixed performances for the Celtics this season, starting the year hot before slowly cooling off. Over Boston’s first 48 games, the Braunschweig native has participated in 42 games and averages 15.4 points, 4.6 assists, and 3.5 rebounds per game while shooting 44.1% from the field and 35.7% from deep per Basketball-Reference. With roughly two weeks remaining before the trade deadline, anything could happen, and Boston may find Schroder’s presence on their roster more valuable than future picks, but that won’t stop his name from coming up in multiple trade rumors between now and then.