Two games into his career as a Laker, point guard Dennis Schroder would like to see the relationship become a long-term commitment.
“This is a hell of an organization, what I’ve seen so far,” said Schroder, who was acquired by the Lakers from Oklahoma City in mid-November for Danny Green and the rights to draft pick Jaden McDaniels.
“Teammates are amazing, people here, they do everything for you and your family. Just what you want to be. You want to be in that environment where you can just focus on basketball every day.”
But — and you knew there would be one — he won’t come cheap. The way he has played so far, he could be worth the investment because of the dimensions and depth he brings to the Lakers’ quest to win a second straight title in a condensed schedule that likely will include plenty of periods of rest for LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
Schroder, who can become a free agent after the season, reportedly turned down a two-year, $33.4-million initial extension offer from the Lakers only because he knew that patience could lead to a better payday if he waits until Feb. 16. According to ESPN, Schroder’s agent, Alex Saratsis, and the Lakers have begun talks and will intensify those discussions as that February date comes closer.
After then, the Lakers can offer him a starting salary of $18.6 million, which could lead to a basis for him to stay.
He likes it here. The Lakers like him. And after an 18-point, six-assist performance in the Lakers’ 138-115 victory over Dallas at Staples Center on Friday — a strong followup to his 14-point, 12-rebound, eight-assist game in their opener — it’s clear that he’s fitting in successfully.
“Dennis is a dynamic player. We’re so excited to have him here,” coach Frank Vogel said on a videoconference. “He’s a pest defensively, picking up full court. Long arms, can get his hands on the ball and deflect the ball. What he can do to our team really better than anyone else is really get into the paint and his ability to wreak havoc on the defense and create things for others.”
It seems like an ideal marriage, but they’re not at the altar yet.
“For sure, I want to extend but it’s got to be fair on both sides,” Schroder said. “I would love to, but it’s got to be fair on both sides, that’s all I’m going to say.”
That’s all he needs to say for now, really, while he makes his case on the court for a long-term deal.
The Lakers wanted him because they needed another playmaker to take some of the pressure off James and, to a lesser extent, Davis. They also wanted another shot creator, a role Schroder has filled well so far.
Coming off the bench for Oklahoma City, he established himself as a hard-working defensive player and was the runner-up to soon-to-be-Lakers-teammate Montrezl Harrell for the sixth man of the year award last season, but his intentions with the Lakers was to be a starter.
“I did this off-the-bench stuff already in two years with OKC. I think I try to move forward,” he said at his first news conference with the Lakers.
Vogel wouldn’t commit to starting him, at least publicly. Schroder said he wasn’t concerned.
“I’m a team player. Whatever it takes, what I need to do, I’m going to do it. It’s team first and we need to get some wins,” he said in Friday’s videoconference.
“Of course I had a conversation with coach. There was my personal thing, I wanted to start this year, but I’m a team player.
“Whatever it takes and what I need to do and bring to the table, I will do that. I’m not worried about it at all. Whatever I can add to the games.”