Schröder is a Celtic on the Cheap

Updated: August 10, 2021
Los Angeles Lakers v New Orleans Pelicans

After what felt like one of the worst offseasons among contending franchises, the Boston Celtics may have just scooped up the steal of this free agency class in the young Dennis Schröder. With a free agency oversaturated with guards, Schröder was left out in the cold after turning down his enormous 84-million-dollar extension in season from the Lakers. After his disappearance in the playoffs in Los Angeles’ first-round knockout, Dennis and his camp went to all 29 teams looking for near max-money and came out empty-handed. Instead, he decided to bet on himself with a 1-year 5.9-million-dollar contract with the Celtics and presumably the promise to be their starting point guard.

It is an interesting question in what the league values, and how the current perception of a player can so heavily impact their overall price tag. Take another score-first guard in Evan Fournier. He has had historically poor performances in the playoffs, and yet he didn’t do it on the biggest stage this postseason in a Lakers’ jersey. Unanimously, 10 months ago, Schröder’s stock would have been at the very least on par with Fournier’s but for most, he would’ve been worth substantially more. But it was Evan who signed the big contract with New York and Schröder left with the 1-year flyer on the cheap.

Let’s take a look at this disappearance in the playoffs which has led to Schröder’s new underpaid salary for the 2021-22 season. What was the rationale given for the Lakers trading Danny Green and a 1st round pick to Oklahoma City for Dennis? With the quick turnaround after the bubble championship, the Lakers were concerned about the weight placed on a 36-year Lebron James forced to handle the ball for the majority of possessions since their only other point guard was the semi-washed Rajon Rondo. Now in the postseason, Playoff Rondo showed up, but from what he had shown throughout the last 3 seasons, in the regular season he was a minus on both ends of the floor. The Dennis Schröder addition was primarily made to aid the Lakers in the regular season, allowing for more load management and diminishing impactful minutes needed from Lebron at the point guard position. However, everyone knew, come playoff time, it would be Lebron James on the ball if they wanted to win a title.

So where would that leave Schröder? It would leave him in the corner, off-ball, waiting. It was assumed since he flourished sharing the point guard position with Chris Paul and SGA in OKC that he would still be able to play off ball and have a positive impact on the floor, but playing with CP3, the Point God is very different than playing with King James. Lebron needs nonrhythm players who don’t need the play to score when kicked to beyond the arc. If his robin is a ball-dominant player, he should be a top-tier scorer who can take over and allow Lebron to rest during those possessions. Schröder isn’t either of those players. He is a B- bucket getter who is streaky from 3. Ideally, the Lakers would have a deep enough roster that he could’ve simply been their 6th man off the bench. However, in the role he was in and the money he foolishly turned down created a narrative for him that not only should he be the starting point guard, but still needed to be a walking bucket. With their defensive anchor Anthony Davis going down and being hobbled throughout the year, Schröder and his role became illogical in the playoffs next to Lebron.

Fast-forward to now, for 5.9 million, next to two of the best wings under 30 who both can shoot the 3 ball at a high clip, it may turn out to be the signing of the offseason. Tatum and Brown have not figured out who should take over down the stretch of games, and Schröder may have the mentality for 4th quarter ball these two have yet to develop. He also is a perfect fit next to Josh Richardson, who also looked like a cheap version of himself next to Luka and Dallas’ specific system that centered around him. With the new depth at the guard position, Marcus Smart will be able to play the backup point-guard position he was meant to play. The Celtics will have a starting lineup of Schröder, Richardson, Brown, Tatum, and Horford.

Does this acquisition put the Celtics in the Milwaukee/Brooklyn bracket? Not quite. But it does now make them the wild card in the East, especially if either Brown or Tatum takes another step up during the season. This team was plagued by CV-19 protocols and injuries, and finally free of the Kemba tumor, Boston may be the black horse pick to come out of the Eastern Conference.

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