By now, we should all know the Dennis Schroder backstory. Coming off a superb 2019-20 campaign with the Oklahoma City Thunder, the German guard was traded to the defending NBA Champion, Los Angeles Lakers. Readily a sixth-man in years past, the Lakers handed Schroder the keys to their offense, making him their starting point guard. They also were reportedly willing to hand him a boat-load of cash — $84 million to be exact (ESPN’s Brian Windhorst & Hoop Collective Podcast). However, he opted to reject the contract extension in hopes of cashing in exponentially more in the offseason, a move that evidently backfired.
After an up-and-down 2020-21 season for both he and the Lakers, Schroder was met with an extremely bleak free-agent market. In return, the 27-year-old settled for a one-year $5.9 million with the Boston Celtics. Shortly after his deal with the Cs, his Lakers’ contract offer was brought into question, as Windhorst’s colleague, Jay Williams, claimed there was never actually an “official” offer made.
While fans have questioned the legitimacy of that latter report, the fact of the matter is, Los Angles opted to wash their hands of Schroder this summer and as it turns out, Lakers star Anthony Davis may have been a deciding factor.
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Anthony Davis Was ‘Frustrated’ With Schroder
This past season, the Lakers traded in the savvy veteran playmaking skills of Rajon Rondo for what they originally perceived as an upgrade in Schroder — a move that Davis was evidently not too fond of at times during the year.
Per an NBA source familiar with some of the Lakers’ struggles through the 2020-21 campaign, Davis felt some frustration that he wasn’t getting the kind of looks in the post with Dennis Schroder running the point compared to those he received with Rondo a year earlier.
That may have contributed to the Lakers choosing not to re-sign Schroder, who struggled to find a home in free agency before taking a one-year, $5.9 million contract with the Boston Celtics.
From a statistical standpoint, Davis’ reported gripe is somewhat warranted. As highlighted by NBC Sports Dan Feldman, Schroder averaged 2.1 assists to Davis per 36 minutes playing with him in 2020-21, a 2.2 dip from Rondo’s 4.3 assists to Davis the year prior.
Then again, the Lakers as a whole were far more effective with Schroder and Davis sharing the court last season than Rondo and Davis were the year prior. Per 100 possessions, Schroder and Davis averaged 114.7 points, 10.8 points more than Davis averaged with Rondo.
Either way, it looks as if Davis will be a happy camper this season, as Rondo has since found his way back to Los Angeles following a buyout with the Memphis Grizzlies.
Schroder Primed to Bounce Back?
While he may not have produced to the same efficiency as he had the year prior in his Sixth-Man of the Year runner-up campaign, Schroder’s numbers with the Lakers were nothing to scoff at. In 61 games, all starts, he averaged 15.4 points and 5.8 assists per game, the latter of which was his highest output since 2017-18.
However, with Marcus Smart looking like — and being paid like — the starting point guard of the Celtics, Schroder may be destined for a reserve role in Boston, not that that’s a bad thing. In 65 games with the Thunder in 2019-20, Schroder averaged 18.9 points and shot a career-best both from the field (46.9%) and from beyond the arc (38.9).
“Dennis has been a great starter and he has also come off the bench and done well in Oklahoma City and other places,” coach Ime Udoka said, via WEEI/NESN. “We want to build on everybody’s strengths and be confident but at the same time know who you are playing with and know there is a pecking order within the team.”