Grading the Lakers-Thunder Trade for Dennis Schröder

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The Lakers are wasting no time in bolstering their title defense, reportedly agreeing to a trade with the Thunder on Sunday for guard Dennis Schröder. Los Angeles will send veteran swingman Danny Green and a first-round pick to OKC in exchange for Schröder. Green is entering the final year of a two-year deal he signed with the Lakers last year. Schröder’s contract is also expiring, though ESPN reports Los Angeles intends to sign him beyond next season. Let’s grade the deal for each side.

Aug 24, 2020; Lake Buena Vista, Florida, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder guard Dennis Schroder (17) shoots over Houston Rockets forward Robert Covington (33) during the first half in game four of the first round of the 2020 NBA Playoffs at AdventHealth Arena.

Lakers: B

This is a solid if not spectacular move for Los Angeles. Schröder was a revelation last season, putting together arguably the best season of his career while coming off the bench for OKC. The former first-round pick posted career highs in field-goal percentage and three-point percentage, and the Lakers will be banking on those numbers being more than one-year aberrations. Before the resurgence of Rajon Rondo during the playoffs, Los Angeles was pretty needy for ball-handling during the regular season (remember those Darren Collison rumors?), so Schröder can help in that regard whether he starts or comes off the bench. (I’m expecting him to start in LA.)

This deal is not quite a home run only because Green is no throw-away player. The three-time champion struggled with his shooting during the playoffs, but he was a very valuable player for much of the season. Green started 68 games for the Lakers, connected at a good rate from outside, and also picked up tough defensive assignments practically every night. While Schröder is a more varied scorer, he won’t offer the same defensive value as Green. For a team whose identity is built on that end of the floor, you can’t ignore the defensive impact of this trade.

The Lakers also seem to be worried about potentially losing Rondo in free agency, according to The New York Times’s Marc Stein. In which case, they are almost certainly not done adjusting the roster. I’d expect a corresponding move to the Schröder trade fairly soon, with a perimeter stopper now moving up the list of needs.

Oct 6, 2020; Miami, Florida, USA; Los Angeles Lakers guard Danny Green (14) reacts after a play during the second quarter against the Miami Heat in Game 4 of the 2020 NBA Finals at AdventHealth Arena.

Oklahoma City: B+

Good marks for Sam Presti, who turned Carmelo Anthony and a lottery-protected first into some good years of Schröder, and is now turning him into a late first rounder. I don’t expect Green to play much for the Thunder, if at all. He will certainly draw the interest of playoff teams, and Presti likes to take care of vets who come through OKC, so expect a quick resolution there.

Presti’s first-round pick hoarding is a dream for front-office enthusiasts, though there has to be a bigger plan at play here. The Thunder can’t really roster all of the picks they have coming through for the next five-to-six seasons. And many of them are going to be in the back half of the first-round, where good players can be found, but the chances are much lower. Ultimately, whether or not the player Los Angeles selects for OKC with the 28th pick is a building block of an asset for a future move, this trade is still a no-brainer for the Thunder.