In an NBA offseason defined by rumors of blockbuster trades, the LA Lakers chose not to make a big splash and instead dealt Danny Green plus the 28th pick in the first round of Wednesday’s draft for Thunder guard Dennis Schroder.
There were rumors that the Lakers would make a play for the Thunder’s other starting guard, longtime LeBron pal Chris Paul, but in dealing for Schroder it seems like an admission that the price for Paul was simply too steep.
While some believe the Lakers needed to make a big move, such as for Paul or DeMar DeRozan, they clearly don’t feel such a move is necessary for them to get back to the Finals. If the Lakers were going to make a move for a superstar-level player, moving Danny Green’s contract would have been the centerpiece of that deal. For example, Green will make $15.3 million in 2021. DeRozan will make $27.7 million. Chris Paul would’ve been a much taller order, as he’s on pace to make $41 million in 2021. The Lakers clearly did not want to go that route, and in moving Green, it now appears to be financially impossible for them to add a superstar-level player.
There are still a lot more moves to be made once free agency begins next week, and I don’t want to get into speculation that will probably prove to be baseless in the next few days, so I want to just focus on the swap of Danny Green for Dennis Schroder:
- While it would seem like the Lakers are losing three point shooting, Danny Green’s inconsistent shooting in the playoffs was the bane of Laker fans everywhere. He only shot 33.9% from three in the playoffs, and 28.9% in the Finals. Schroder shot only 28.9% from three in his seven playoff games in 2020, but shot a career-best 38.5% from three in the regular season.
- Schroder is not known as a three-point shooter, but he has improved his three point shooting dramatically over the past three seasons. In 2018, he shot 29% from three. In 2019, he shot 34.1% and as we just went over, 38.5% in 2020. CBS Sports called Schroder’s 2020 three point shooting rate “unsustainable” and attributed most of it to playing with Chris Paul, but LeBron will be able to create lots of open looks for Schroder so I wouldn’t be too worried about major regression.
- On a points-per-game basis, Schroder is a big upgrade over Green. Green averaged 8 points a game last year, Schroder averaged 18.9.
- The Lakers also get younger: Green is 33 years old, Schroder just turned 27. I know people think it’s normal for players to be great well beyond the age of 30 because LeBron has been doing it for the past 5 years, but it’s really not. Attempts to figure out what age NBA players are at their best have pinpointed the exact age at about 27.
- In terms of money, Schroder for Green is basically a wash. Schroder will make $15.5 million next season, and Danny Green will make $15.3 million. I’d say Schroder is a much better value for the money.
- Danny Green is probably a better defender and three-point shooter than Schroder, but again Green was unreliable from three in the playoffs. And Schroder is a scrappy defender with a great motor. He is not at all a liability on defense. Overall he’s a big upgrade on offense and will be the team’s clear-cut #3 scoring option when he’s on the floor. He can create his own shots and get to the rim consistently. The Lakers are a better team with Schroder, unequivocally.
The name of the game this offseason for the Lakers was keeping the roster largely intact. The Lakers’ front office clearly believes this roster is good enough to defend its title next year, and they want to retain as many of their role players as possible. They had great chemistry last season and got major contributions from guys like Rajon Rondo, KCP, Markieff Morris and Alex Caruso.
The Lakers are going to have to pay Anthony Davis huge money. They’re assuming they will lose Rondo as some other team will be able to give him more money than the Lakers can. Rondo has already officially opted out and become a free agent, and while he was a key contributor on the Lakers and fit in on the team beautifully, you can’t blame the guy for chasing more money. He’s definitely earned it.
We’ll have to see what happens this week. It’s expected to feature a lot of wheeling and dealing.
But as for this deal, the Lakers definitely upgraded. The most valuable commodity in the NBA is players who can create their own shots, and the Lakers just added another one.