EL SEGUNDO, Calif. — Dennis Schroder said he harbors a sense of “unfinished business” after completing his first practice of his second stint with the Los Angeles Lakers on Monday.
While the 29-year-old guard declared his intention to win more than Los Angeles did during his first year with the franchise — when the Lakers’ repeat title bid fell short with a first-round loss to the Phoenix Suns — he also addressed a business decision he made during the 2020-21 season that has haunted him ever since.
Schroder, who signed a one-year, $2.64 million contract with the Lakers last month, claims the Lakers never offered him the four-year, $84 million contract extension he was eligible to sign that season.
“I mean, at the end of the day, there was never a contract,” Schroder said. “There was never a contract, never refused anything … This is not true.”
It seems to be a matter of semantics.
A source familiar with the negotiations between Schroder’s representative at the time and the Lakers told ESPN that when LA opened talks about an extension in February 2021, Schroder’s side said they would rather wait until the offseason to discuss one. deal when he reaches free agency.
Schroder’s and the Lakers’ fortunes changed from there. The Lakers, who posted a 22-7 record in mid-February when those contract talks were happening, went 20-23 the rest of the way as injuries and COVID-19 absences hit the roster. And Schroder was devastating in that playoff loss to Phoenix, averaging 14.3 points on 40% shooting and 2.8 assists.
When the offseason came, Los Angeles wasn’t interested in offering the same type of long-term deal it intended to discuss months ago and ended up trading for Russell Westbrook to play point guard.
Schroder ended up signing a one-year, $5.9 million deal with the Boston Celtics and finished the season with the Houston Rockets after being traded.
Schroder even poked fun at the more than $80 million disparity between what he could have earned and what he signed for, posting a photo on Instagram of himself holding his head in his hands and inviting followers to write jokes in the comments about how he “swallowed the bag”.
However, he appeared enthusiastic when talking about his new opportunity with the Lakers on Monday, citing his strong relationship with coach Darwin Ham, who coached him for five years, starting when he was a rookie, with the Atlanta Hawks.
“I’m going to make sure that whatever I can do, I bring to the team to win ballgames,” Schroder said. “I mean, Coach Darwin knows. He’s known me for 10 years. He knows what I bring. And no matter what, I’m going to do whatever it takes to get a W and finish the job.”
And maybe the business of basketball will treat him better the second time around in Los Angeles.
“The whole situation with the Lakers was a little strange. “That’s why he said, ‘I’ll even play for free here,’ just to make it fair, just to put everybody in the right direction.
“Of course it would be nice to sign a big deal and a long-term deal, and that’s still my goal. But at the end of the day, we’re here now and I’m going to do everything I can right now to just help my teammates to win ball games.”
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