In front of the Monday afternoon transaction window, the Los Angeles Lakers are reportedly to acquire Sixth Man of the Year candidate Dennis Schroder from the Oklahoma City Thunder. Apparently, the rich getting richer is what’s going on in the basketball world right now, with the defending NBA champions making one of the first big offseason moves.
It’s not unexpected. The Lakers won the NBA title in the Orlando bubble back in October with a veteran roster heavy and more than a few expiring contracts. With Anthony Davis expected to opt-out of his player’s option and resign long term, and LeBron James signed for another season, Los Angeles is in win-now mode.
Landing More Assets
This past season (and particularly entering the playoffs), the major knock against the Lakers was the lack of depth on the roster. Avery Bradley’s absence was felt just one game into the playoffs, as the Lakers stumbled at the start. However, veteran Rajon Rondo stepped up his game and became that x-factor that teams often need to make a deep playoff run.
Rondo, along with Dwight Howard, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Markieff Morris, Dion Waiters, and Jared Dudley are all free agents, while Bradley and JaVale McGee are on player options. Los Angeles absolutely needs to fill out their roster and trading for a dynamic guard like Schroder makes a lot of sense.
To acquire Schroder, the Lakers will need to move some salary making Danny Green the most logical candidate to be sent to Oklahoma City. He makes the same money as Schroder, and in the past, the Lakers have made Green available in trade talks. They will also have to sweeten the deal. The Laker’s No. 28 (one of only two Laker first-round picks that remain tradeable) is fairly valuable, but more to a rebuilding team like Oklahoma than to a championship level team like Los Angeles.
Alternately, Oklahoma City could target Kyle Kuzma. Kuzma is a younger option who would complement Shai Gilgeous-Alexander at a position of need for the Thunder.
Why The Trade Makes Sense
Dennis Schroder was one of the best guards in the NBA this past season. Last season with the Thunder, Schroder averaged 18.9 points, 4 assists, and 3.6 rebounds per game coming off the bench. In 65 games he shot 46.9% from the field and 38.5% from behind the three-point arc.
The 27-year-old out of Germany could replace both Rondo or Bradley in the backcourt, two veteran guards who are not expected to return to Los Angeles. Schroder’s speed and ability to finish at the basket would blend well with the Lakers’ fast-paced offense. More importantly, Schroder is dynamic enough to lead the play while James is on the bench or compliment him as a spot-up shooter.
Despite making the playoffs this past season, Oklahoma City is committed to a rebuild and is rumored to be heavily shopping Chris Paul. Schroder’s value has never been higher, and he’s a UFA after this coming season and in line for a big pay raise. In Green, they get a competent starter, and the 2020 draft pick fits in well with their long term plans.
Sending Schroder is clearly a way for both teams to make the most of the offseason, and with what’s going on in the basketball world, the trade seemingly makes a lot of sense.