The Los Angeles Lakers have addressed their need for a significant upgrade at the point guard position. On Sunday, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that the Lakers and the Oklahoma City Thunder had moved into serious talks in regards to Dennis Schroder. The pending deal comes a day before teams can officially began completing trades, and the Lakers appear to have struck first and hard in this “game of chicken”-like offseason.
Beyond that, the Lakers were linked to multiple guards this offseason, and to be honest, none of them ever really included Schroder as a likely option. The Thunder were believed to be holding on to Schroder as a building block for the future with 22-year old Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, but now it seems that the squad will try to execute a complete rebuild as they plan to also move on from Chris Paul at some point in the near future.
The focal point of this transaction, however, is observing how well each club did in its efforts to guide themselves on the next steps to their respective paths.
Los Angeles Lakers: A-
This was a trade that practically caught most pundits off guard. There were whispers of the Lakers attempting to make a move for players such as Paul, Derrick Rose and even Bradley Beal, which shunned away thoughts of someone like Schroder. Still, the Lakers were able to play this move perfectly.
At 27, Schroder is entering the prime of his career where he could be of most use to both LeBron James and Anthony Davis in their quest for repeating championships. He’s coming off his second-largest scoring output of his career, averaging 18.9 points per game last season. While his assists totals don’t show him as a capable playmaker, he spent the entirety of last year with Paul as the primary point guard, who took up the bulk of offense-initiating.
Where the Lakers really won in this trade was by grabbing an at-will scorer that can address some of their 3-point shooting woes. Schroder is coming off a 38 percent shooting campaign last season from beyond the arc. He also ended the season on a true shooting percentage of 57.
His defense is nothing short of remarkable as well. He possesses a shity frame that allows his lateral quickness to keep opposing guards saddled in the backcourt, thus making the opposing offense become stagnant.
Oklahoma City Thunder: C+
The only justifiable reason for the Thunder going through with this trade was simply to avoid a massive payday for Schroder in 2021, which is understandable to a degree. What doesn’t necessarily add up is what they got in return for the 6-foot-1 guard’s services. Green was pretty much a surefire shipoff for the Lakers after his letdown outings this season. In fact, many commentators predicted that the Lakers may have had to take a loss in exchange for clearing Green off their books.
Instead, the Thunder stepped in to absorb the 33-year old’s remaining year on his contract, which will allow them to have a reasonable amount of cap space in 2021. Even so, the idea of letting go of Schroder in a salary-dumping trade is odd. If anything, Paul was labeled as the salary dump coming into the offseason, which should’ve made the Thunder prioritize taking back less attractive pieces in that deal versus what they acquired from the Lakers.
To make matters worse, they were enticed by the No. 28 pick, which doesn’t hold much value in this year’s draft. They now will own 16 first-round picks between the 2020 and 2026 NBA Drafts, which after a while becomes a head-scratcher.