The Los Angeles Lakers‘ NBA title defense fell disappointingly short after a first-round playoff exit against the Phoenix Suns. The Lakers now move forward toward the offseason, where much change may be ahead. With that in mind, the front office may have let guard Dennis Schroder where he stands in the long-term plans.
Lakers fall well short of NBA title contention
The Lakers entered the 2020-21 season with the lofty expectation of competing for a second straight NBA title.
Instead, the campaign quickly became derailed by significant injuries that never allowed Los Angeles to find its footing. LeBron James and Anthony Davis never fully physically recovered, resulting in the first-round elimination in six games against the Suns.
As the Lakers head toward the offseason, the franchise may have let its top free-agent know it feels.
Dennis Schroder may already know where he stands in the Lakers’ long-term plans
The Lakers‘ early playoff exit quickly shifts the attention toward the upcoming offseason plans.
Near the top of the list is Dennis Schroder’s future, as he will enter free agency for the first time in his NBA career. The 27-year-old has positioned himself toward earning a lucrative multi-year deal from the Lakers or another team.
After the Game 6 loss to the Suns, he expressed the desire to return to Los Angeles for a shot to compete for an NBA title.
“I’m going to work my ass off to come back here and give everything because we owe the fans more,” Schroder said via Mike Trudell of Spectrum Sportsnet. “I’m going to work my ass off this summer, come back and be me…I want to be here and win a championship.”
However, ESPN‘s Ramona Shelburne recently wrote that the Lakers might have already shifted away from him being a part of the future plans. It began with Schroder publicly voicing that he expected to start even though he excelled off the bench with the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The standing between the two sides worsened as he reportedly turned down a four-year, $84 million extension shortly after becoming eligible for a new contract in February. The decision to head that route and his inconsistent play at times frustrated some within the organization.
“The Lakers acceded to his request to start, and continued negotiating with his representatives on a rich contract extension,” Shelburne wrote. “But his play on the court frustrated some in the organization, according to sources. By the trade deadline, L.A. was including him in trade discussions for Toronto Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry.”
Schroder may want a return, but it isn’t a clear-cut path due to his actions over the last several months.
Front office may already have other offseason plans
Schroder’s offseason plans could significantly impact how the Lakers approach free agency and the trade market.
Recent reports suggest that the front office may re-explore acquiring All-Star point guard Kyle Lowry. The team nearly landed the 35-year-old before the trade deadline with an offer that included Schroder. However, the hesitance to make promising swingman Talen Horton-Tucker part of the haul prevented the blockbuster move.
Lowry is heading into free agency, where he will draw interest from teams such as the Miami Heat. He reportedly held a strong interest in joining before last season’s trade deadline. Any hope for the Lakers to land the star guard will likely lie with a sign-and-trade scenario involving the Toronto Raptors due to their limited salary-cap space.
Los Angeles will likely gauge the market to see the interest in Kyle Kuzma, which could net the franchise backcourt help. During the first-round playoff series against the Suns, a report emerged that general manager Rob Pelinka previously attempted to offload Kuzma in a trade for Brooklyn Nets point guard Spencer Dinwiddie.
Although the Lakers will have limited flexibility to make offseason moves, considerable roster change may lie ahead.
Contract figures courtesy of Spotrac.