The rivalry between the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics turned up a notch this offseason. Dennis Schroder left the Purple and Gold after one season to sign with the Celtics, his fourth team in his nine-year career. At first, Schroder’s departure to Boston seemed like it was because the Lakers failed to offer him a new deal. But the German guard recently revealed his decision to join the C’s came down to never feeling 100% comfortable in LA.
Dennis Schroder’s failed negotiations led him to the Boston Celtics
Back in February, Schroder and the Lakers looked like they were on a track to repeat as NBA champions. With their starting point guard hitting free agency after the season, LA reportedly offered Schroder a four-year, $84 million extension. It was a sign that the front office saw the 27-year-old as an integral part of a team featuring superstars LeBron James and Anthony Davis. However, Schroder felt his value exceeded LA’s offer, thereby declining the extension.
Fast forward past the start of free agency, where Schroder was one of the last starting-caliber players remaining on the market. The hopes of returning to LA were squashed after the Lakers traded for Russell Westbrook. Most teams had already spent the bulk of their salary cap, leaving Dennis with few options and much less money on the table.
Finally, after eight days in free agency, Schroder signed with the Celtics. Boston used their mid-level exception for the guard, now 28, which was worth $5.9 million over one year.
Schroder said he never felt comfortable with the Los Angeles Lakers
At Celtics Media Day, Schroder discussed his decision to join the Celtics. But part of the reason why he is wearing the Green and White now is that his comfort level was never where he wanted it to be in LA (h/t NBC Sports Boston).
“I feel like for me personally I’ve got to be comfortable in the environment I’m in. I love the Lakers organization, they did great things. But I think for me, and it’s just business, I don’t think I fit in 100 percent [with the Lakers]. You play with LeBron and AD, that’s two of the best players in the NBA. I don’t think I gave them everything I bring to the table.”Dennis Schroder
Schroder also addressed some of the discussions regarding the money he left on the table.
“For me, my family, I signed a pretty good contract after my fourth year, and my family and myself, we’re going to be good,” Schroder said. “I’m 28 years old and I’m going to still play in the NBA for a long time. Money is not everything. I want to be comfortable in a situation where I know people appreciate me. How all this stuff happened, you just gotta look forward and just to try to keep improving and try to show people what you’re capable of, and everything’s going to come back.”
Both the Lakers and Celtics are in good spots
Schroder’s old team is gearing up for a title without him. With Westbrook in the picture, the Lakers have three MVP candidates leading the way in their quest for a second title in three seasons. And while the Celtics might not be significant title favorites like their rival, Schroder will provide some scoring at either guard position for first-year head coach Ime Udoka.
In 61 games last season, Schroder averaged 15.4 points in just over 32 minutes per game. The point total was his lowest since his third season in the NBA when he was averaging around 20 minutes. Part of that was sharing the ball with superstars James and Davis, but it’s possible his comfort level had something to do with it too. And fortunately for Boston fans, Schroder is already feeling wanted in his new home.
“When free agency hit, Al Horford, Jaylen Brown, [Jayson] Tatum, Brad Stevens, Ime [Udoka], they all texted me, called me,” Schroder said. “It showed me that they really, really want me here. And I think that was a great sign for me, and that’s the reason why I decided to come to Boston.”
Schroder may not have the major payday he initially wanted, but it appears he’s happy in Boston regardless.
All statistics courtesy of Basketball Reference.