Dennis Schroder may take bold risk ahead of much-hyped free agency
Dennis Schroder may attempt to play for Germany in the Tokyo Olympics weeks ahead of his highly-anticipated foray into unrestricted free agency. Last month, Schroder indicated that his hopes of landing a $100-$120 million deal would prevent him from playing in the Olympics due to insurance policy issues.
However, he told Zeit Online that he hopes to join the team after attending every one of Germany’s games during the Olympic qualifying tournament in Split, Croatia. Germany sealed their spot in the Olympic field on July 4.
The country has not competed in the Summer Games since Beijing in 2008 when they finished 10th.
"They played their heart out and I'm proud of 'em!" ❤️
— FIBA (@FIBA) July 4, 2021
Here’s his quote to Zeit, (via Silver Screen and Roll):
“If there is a possibility, then that would of course be great … I’m always available, but my situation is not that easy. But I hope we can sort that out by then. My agent has to do his job now. The German national team has done its job, let’s see.”
The German Basketball Federation’s — cash-strapped due to the pandemic — initial offer of $10 million in insurance did not satisfy the guard. Apparently, Schroder has changed his mind. If an agreement is reached, Schroder would only be able to join the team as an injury replacement.
Schroder has competed in various international competitions for the German national team since he was a teenager. He was the leading scorer at 2017 EuroBasket, averaging 23.7 points per game. Yet, his last-minute 180 has seemingly shaken up the German national team. Per Zeit (translated by SS&R):
“With his well-intentioned words that arose out of emotion, Schröder put the association and (coach Henrik) Rödl in a mess. Instead of the almost sensational Olympic qualification, the first in 13 years, almost everyone talked only about Schröder on Monday.
His name was missing from the list published by the German Olympic Sports Confederation…In the event that a player injured himself, Schröder could still move up in the course of a so-called late athlete replacement, once the insurance question had been clarified.”
Schroder averaged 15.4 per game in his first season with the Los Angeles Lakers. He generally played well and his two-way effort was valuable throughout the regular season.
But, tensions began to simmer after he turned down a four-year, $84 million extension midseason, prompting the Lakers to shop him at the trade deadline. An untimely stint on the COVID-19 list hampered him down the stretch.
Throughout the 2020-21 season, Schroder was consistent, if a bit contradictory and testy, when discussing his future. He repeatedly expressed a desire to remain with the Lakers and was effusive of the organization and culture, including during exit interviews. Yet, he never hid his intention to test unrestricted free agency for the first time in his career.
Los Angeles has an interest in retaining Schroder at the right price rather than letting him walk for nothing, but it’s unclear how high they’re willing to go (they did trade a first-rounder for him). The Lakers will be facing a sky-high luxury tax bill should they retain Schroder, Alex Caruso, and Talen Horton-Tucker, among other free agents. Lakers GM Rob Pelinka was complimentary of the point guard’s performance, though remained non-committal about running it back with Dennis.
At the moment, Marc Gasol is the only Lakers player heading to Tokyo. Former Lakers Moritz Wagner and Isaac Bonga will represent Germany in the Olympics, too.