Perhaps the biggest storyline left in the independent NBA agency is Dennis Schroder. Schroder’s fall from grace was very interesting as he reportedly turned down a four-year $ 84 million deal with the Los Angeles Lakers during the season and now has no team for the 2021-22 season.
Schroder is going to find a team to play for at some point as he’s still a talented rotation player, he just won’t get anywhere near what he wants, let alone what the Lakers offered him a few months ago.
One option that is still circulating in the rumor mill is a sign-and-trade. The Boston Celtics appear to be the most viable candidate, and some are even predicting the two sides will sign-and-trade to get Schroder in Boston.
While a Schroder sign-and-trade seemed inevitable four weeks ago, given the Los Angeles Lakers’ current status, it’s just not a viable option.
Why the Los Angeles Lakers won’t sign Dennis Schroder.
Even if Schröder doesn’t get the deal he wanted, he should get a deal in the tens of millions. Maybe it’s a one-year proof-it deal worth $ 10 million. He probably would have accepted the MLE from another team earlier in the offseason, so maybe it’s something like two years, $ 25 million.
In any case, a safe range to estimate Schroder’s salary for the next season is $ 10 million to $ 13 million, with an absolute cap of about $ 16 million. So the Lakers would have to take on a similar contract.
The proposed deal linked above has the Los Angeles Lakers taking on Josh Richardson to fill the bill for the salary. Richardson makes $ 11.6 million, which fits our range of $ 10 million to $ 13 million.
Boston has just taken over Richardson and it is open to debate whether the team wants to swap him or not. There’s also a debate about whether the Lakers would even want Richardson. None of this is relevant as there is an overarching reason this won’t happen.
The luxury tax. The Los Angeles Lakers won’t trade Dennis Schroder because they simply don’t want to take on a major tax bill. Jeannie Buss didn’t say directly that they didn’t want any major tax bills, but they have already confirmed this with their actions.
The Lakers let Alex Caruso sign a four-year deal for $ 37 million, though Caruso’s camp allegedly returned to the Lakers and gave them one last chance to counter as he wanted to stay in LA. That should tell us all we need to hear.
If the Lakers took another $ 11.6 million in salary (that’s a good intermediate point in our range), they’d be just under $ 28 million ($ 27.95 million) above the cap. For simplicity, we’ll round up to $ 28 million.
Using last year’s luxury tax brackets, the Lakers would pay $ 2,975 for every dollar they have over the luxury tax. Multiply that by $ 28 million and the Lakers would pay $ 83.3 million in taxes alone.
The Lakers are currently expected to owe $ 33.1 million in taxes, according to Spotrac. That’s an additional $ 50 million for a mediocre rotating player.
Sure, the Los Angeles Lakers are the second most valuable team in the league and they have money to spend and I personally don’t care if they have to spend so much taxes on their own. But if they weren’t doing it for Alex Caruso, they wouldn’t be doing it for a Schroder sign-and-trade.