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The Lakers Will Need More Than Dennis Schröder to Defend Their Title

Updated: Oct 9, 2021

On Sunday morning, the Lakers agreed to trade Danny Green and the 28th pick in the 2020 draft to the Thunder in exchange for Dennis Schröder. Though it hasn't been made official yet, the moratorium on trades will be lifted at noon today. This is the first trade in this year's abbreviated offseason, and a big one too. Los Angeles will welcome Schröder, the runner-up for last season's Sixth Man of the Year award, with open arms. But they still have moves to make if they want to run it back.

Schröder should immediately mesh next to LeBron James and Anthony Davis. The Lakers needed both a third scorer and more production from the point guard position, and he checks both of those boxes. It should be interesting to see how Schröder will follow up last year's season. The German point guard averaged 18.9 points per game off the bench last season, wreaking havoc with Chris Paul and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander in Oklahoma City's dangerous three-guard lineup. He also had his most efficient season yet, shooting 38.5% from 3-point range and boasting an effective field-goal percentage of 53.4.

Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Dennis Schröder smiles as he prepares to shoot a 3-pointer during an NBA basketball game.
Dennis Schröder | Image via Getty/Cooper Neill

While Los Angeles picked up a much-needed third scorer, they lost a valuable 3-and-D piece in Danny Green. While he took some flak for missing some important shots in the playoffs, he's been excellent in those scenarios throughout his career. Before Steph Curry broke it in 2016, Green held the record for most threes made in a Finals series with 23. Even when his shot is off, his defense is a bit better. He's an excellent team defender on good days, using his IQ to get to the ball before it even comes his way. Even still, he looked overmatched guarding man-to-man in the postseason. It doesn't matter how well Green performed now; the Lakers are champions and he's gone.

Which raises the question: how will the Lakers replace him? Dealing away the frustrating Green has now created a huge hole at the wing position. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is also expected to decline his player option. According to the New York Times' Marc Stein, Los Angeles has expressed interest in Milwaukee Bucks shooting guard Wesley Matthews. Matthews would be a satisfying remedy to the Lakers' lack of outside shooting, having a career 3-point percentage of 38.1 across 14 seasons.

Los Angeles Lakers point guard LeBron James and shooting guard Danny Green high-five in the Orlando bubble during an NBA basketball game.
LeBron James (23) and Danny Green (14) | Image via AP/Ashley Landis

The Schröder-Green trade will free up enough cap space for the Lake Show to use their non-taxpayer mid-level exception. For those who aren't familiar, each team (if they don't pay the luxury tax that season) can use their mid-level exception once a year to sign a player for a maximum amount specified by the league. This year, the non-taxpayer MLE has been set at $9.258 million. The Lakers can use this to sign a veteran stretch forward like Aron Baynes or Marc Gasol, both of whom can do dirty work in the paint and hurt defenses from behind the arc.

Going after somebody in the mold of Jae Crowder would be excellent for Los Angeles as well. Crowder, built sturdily at 6'6" and 235 pounds, played a key role in the Miami Heat's Finals run last season. His combination of tenacious defense and acceptable 3-point shooting gave the Heat just what they needed. However, Crowder did express his love for Miami and desire to sign a contract extension, so it might be difficult for the Lakers to coax him across the country. Signing someone of his ilk like Justin Holiday would do them well.

The Lakers definitely added an excellent scoring punch in Schröder to their already-lethal tandem of LeBron and AD. Nonetheless, with that came the removal of a key cog to their stifling defense. How Los Angeles will address their shortcomings at the forward position will be something to watch. They traded away yet another first-round pick, putting even more emphasis on their win-now mentality. Without a doubt, the Lakers have some work to do if they want to defend their title with confidence.


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