Former Celtics guard Dennis Schroeder’s deal with the Lakers should be a cautionary tale for veterans

Dennis Schroeder looked like a bargain last season when the Celtics managed to sign a one-year deal worth just $5.9 million. Surprisingly, one year later, the 29-year-old found himself settled for a veteran’s minimal deal just weeks before his training camp with the Los Angeles Lakers.

Schroeder signed the deal on the heels of a strong EuroBasket performance for Germany, choosing his former team over reported interest from the Raptors and Suns in the Charania sun.

Celtic’s previous reunion with the Lakers comes amid a bit of despair for both sides. Los Angeles brought in Russell Westbrook last summer as a potential promotion on Schroeder after the two sides were unable to reach extension terms. Westbrook’s fitness in Los Angeles has been largely a disaster amid the Lakers’ lottery season and trade rumors likely add to the now veteran goalkeeper’s feud with Schroeder in the picture. Lakers general manager Robin Pelinka also brought Patrick Beverly and Lonnie Walker into the team’s backcourt in this off-season, which on paper creates a bit of a minute crunch with Schroeder.

“We are very pleased to welcome Dennis Schroeder back to the Lakers,” Pelinka said in a statement announcing the signing last week. “Not only do Dennis and coach Hamm share the history of the player and coach together, but they also reflect each other’s mentality of solidity with a very competitive edge. Dennis will add depth and defensive presence on the ball to our heart in the guard position. He is also a goalscorer and playmaker. We are really excited to have Dennis back to camp and back to work in Los Angeles after his highly successful off-season career with his national team.”

Schroeder can also be seen as a cautionary tale for veteran players who don’t secure long-term deals in the NBA on the open market. Schroeder thought he could rebuild his value in Boston last season, but the Celtics chose to replace him with the Rockets’ mid-season after an embarrassing backcourt bout with Marcus Smart. He barely played for Houston (15 games) after being dealt Daniel Theis and the Rockets didn’t make him a priority in the free agency.

With the points guard being one of the deepest positions in the league and Schroeder struggling to get along with the contender, his stock went down, leading him to settle a $2.6 million contract. The reunion comes even after Schroeder questioned his role with the Lakers to MassLive during his only season in Los Angeles.

“I play with AD and LeBron,” Schroeder said last year. “It was an honor to play with them and to see every day how they work and how they do things on the field, off the field, it’s just such a blessing. That’s why I’m grateful to see that, but for me, personally, it just wasn’t a good fit.” The reason why I was a little hesitant (in re-signing). The way I played is not the way Dennis has played his entire NBA career and that’s why I was like, “Okay, I have to see how it goes after that.”

Schroeder reportedly turned down a four-year extension with the Lakers during the 2020-21 season before settling on an MLE deal with Boston.

The 6-foot-1 will have a chance to rebuild some value in Los Angeles if he can take the time to play in a crowded backyard under new coach Darvin Hamm. However, Schroeder’s career appears to have taken a similar trajectory to Jeff Greens in the world now, a useful veteran who has had to settle for veteran or mid-level exception deals for the past four seasons now.

Schroeder turned down big paychecks in 2020 and now his path toward big money contracts may be over for good in the evolving free agent market.

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