Lakers Could Have All-Star Options If Dennis Schroder Leaves L.A.

Mike Conley Lakers

Getty Dennis Schroder of the Los Angeles Lakers.

Pending Dennis Schroder’s free-agent decision, the Los Angeles Lakers could have a point guard vacancy to fill this offseason. Enter Mike Conley who is coming off the first long-awaited All-Star appearance of his career.

Conley will be a free agent this summer and will likely be taking a pay cut from his current $34.5 million salary. The 33-year old Jazz point guard is in the final season of a massive five-year, $152.6 million deal, per Spotrac. Former NBA executive John Hollinger recently suggested on The Athletic that teams will be forced to evaluate Schroder in comparison to veterans like Conley, Kyle Lowry and potentially Chris Paul in free agency.

“But once Schröder stayed put, his free agency future became a matter of which sort of point guard — and how old — teams prefer,” Hollinger detailed. “At 27, he’s much younger (and less accomplished) than the Paul/Conley/Lowry crowd and more of a known commodity than Ball (though smaller). So is Schröder worth the kind of $80-plus million deal that ESPN’s Brian Windhorst reported he turned down last month? We’ll find out how teams feel about that question a few months from now.”

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Conley on Free Agency: ‘Utah’s Got Me’

After a disappointing debut season in Utah, not only are Conley’s statistics up, but the point guard is having a massive impact on the Jazz being one of the top Western Conference teams. Conley is averaging 16.4 points, six assists, 3.4 rebounds and 1.4 steals this season and is a big reason why the Jazz are in the driver’s seat to finish with the best record in the NBA.

During a February interview with The Athletic’s Tony Jones, Conley emphasized his desire to re-sign with the Jazz this summer. Plenty can change in free agency as Conley would not be the first player to change course once other offers start coming in the offseason.

“Utah’s got me,” Conley explained. “I was talking about this to my wife recently. We love it here. I don’t think I can go anywhere else that plays the way we play. We’ll see this offseason, because when that time comes there will definitely be a lot of chatter. But, from where I sit right now, this team is so unique, in the way we play. And everyone has bought into what we want to do on both ends of the floor.”

The Lakers Would Need to Pull off a Sign-and-Trade to Have a Chance at Landing Conley

There are several hurdles the Lakers would need to overcome to sign Conley or any other marquee free agent in 2021. The Lakers are headed towards luxury tax territory next season meaning they will not have the cap space to sign Conley outright. Los Angeles would first need Conley to make the Lakers his top priority and help orchestrate a sign-and-trade with the Jazz.

ESPN’s Brian Windhorst reported Schroder turned down the Lakers’ four-year, $84 million contract extension offer. We saw at the trade deadline that the Lakers were willing to move on from Schroder when the team explored a deal for Lowry before Talen Horton-Tucker proved to be the deal-breaker. If the Lakers are going to pay more than $20 million annually for Schroder, the front office would be wise to explore every available point guard alternative to Schroder.

It would not be a surprise if the Lakers make a hard push for a veteran point guard to pair with LeBron James and Anthony Davis if Schroder’s asking price continues to rise. There have already been rumblings that teams with cap space plan to make Schroder a lucrative offer, and the Lakers will also have plenty of players interested in teaming up with James and Davis.

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