Dennis Schroder is returning to the Los Angeles Lakers — but with no guarantees over his role that he enjoyed during his first stint with the team.
Schroder started all of the 61 games he played for L.A. in 2020-21 after stating he expects to be part of the opening lineup. However, the guard will have to earn his rotation minutes this year considering how crowded a backcourt the Lakers’ will begin the 2022-23 season with.
The German playmaker will likely start the campaign as Russell Westbrook’s backup — a familiar role having played with Westbrook on the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2018-19. But even if he finds himself behind the 2017 NBA MVP in the pecking order, Schroder says he looks forward to teaming up with the 33-year-old again.
“Russ is my guy,” he says. “He’s helped me so much when I was [in OKC] and even after that. He’s like my big brother, he’s helped me and we’ve stayed in touch.
“To play with him again, it’s gonna be great. It was fun times, positive vibes with him every single time and I can’t wait to get to work with him and with everyone else.”
Unlike in Schroder and Westbrook’s first run together, the latter likely won’t be among the untouchable stars during the 2022-23 season. Offseason reports claimed Westbrook will have to outplay the other guards to retain his spot in the Lakers’ starting lineup.
Besides, the former MVP might not be in L.A. by the end of the season. After months of trade rumors involving Westbrook’s name, Lakers president of basketball operations and general manager Rob Pelinka didn’t rule out a potential roster reshuffle might still take place — even after 2022-23’s tip-off.
Schroder comes back to L.A. to take care of ‘unfinished business’
Schroder left the Lakers in awkward circumstances, reportedly after rejecting a big-money contract extension. The guard has denied ever receiving an actual offer from L.A., but the fact is his negotiations with the franchise resulted in a fiasco.
For the most part, Schroder also didn’t get to play in front of the Purple and Gold’s fans due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and suffered a disappointing first-round exit in the playoffs before leaving in free agency in 2020-21.
All in all, the guard says he has some “unfinished business” to take care of upon his return to L.A.
“Yeah, for sure. I said it in my exit meeting I think that we have unfinished business playing with LeBron and AD,” Schroder said after practice on Monday,” he says.
“And now Russ, Pat Bev is here and all those young guys. I’m ready to work and I’m excited.”
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