Failure is a bruise not a tattoo is a famous line that has inspired a whole segment on Man United Great Gary Neville’s “Overlap” program where he engages his interviewees about failures in their respective careers. In NBA free agency, a ton of players are cashing out on impressive production in previous months into mouthwatering deals that sets them up for life and to the next generation. Luka Doncic utterly deserved to sign the biggest rookie contract extension with Dallas Mavericks same way Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Trae Young and John Collins cashed in big.
Not everyone is a superstar or has a career building towards superstardom like those mentioned above but that didn’t prevent mid tier guys like Cameron Payne and Reggie Jackson from receiving their just due. Payne’s wonderful run with Phoenix Suns last season turned into a three year, $19 million deal to stay with the Suns. Jackson developed into LA Clippers X Factor especially in the playoffs and bagged a two year, $22 million deal with them.
There were some overpays nonetheless with Miami Heat leading the lot after handing Jimmy Butler a three year deal worth an average $48 million per year with new teammate Kyle Lowry (who is 35 years old) bagging a three year, $85 million deal. However, there were some bad news with some guys missing out on the big spending extravaganza notably Dennis Schroder. The German was presented with the chance to sign a four year, $84 million deal by the Lakers but rejected it believing he deserved to be in the $100 million region over the same number of years.
Months after rejecting the deal, coupled with a bout of COVID 19 and a disastrous playoff run, Schroder missed out on major cash only managing to sign a one year deal with Boston Celtics worth $5 million. He joins an infamous list of guys who missed out on big deals with the list including Nerlens Noel who rejected a four year, $70 million gig only to sign one year deals south of $5 million. New York paid him handsomely though with a three year, $32 million just last week though.
Shabazz Mohammed is another name on this list after rejecting a four year, $40 million contract with Minnesota Timberwolves only to return to the team as a free agent on a one year, $1.5 million deal. Two seasons later, Mohammed is out of the NBA and has been playing in the Chinese League since. Schroder is the laughing stock of the league right now but has the chance to get back on track and score big bucks down the line especially after signing with Boston Celtics.
The Celtics lack a true point guard and that is what Schroder is. He is an upgrade on what Marcus Smart brings to the position from an offensive stand point and the former Atlanta Hawks Guard isn’t shabby on the defensive side. Smart is a top defender and earns his money in this spot because he is an average distributor and shooter and Boston needs beyond that to get past Philadelphia, Milwaukee and Brooklyn.
All top teams need a third scorer to excel as Jrue Holiday did behind Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton on Milwaukee’s title winning team. Celtics could close games surrounding Smart-its best defender but worst shooter-with scorers and shooters in Al Horford, Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Schroder to snuff teams out. Schroder fills a need at Boston and that should help his production and overall outlook that leads to a richer, longer deal after the 2021-2022 season.
Boston’s financial situation could vault Schroder’s salary beyond this season should he produce the way he did at Oklahoma City Thunder and his pre Playoffs Run with the Lakers. Marcus Smart is heading into the final year of his contract and could potentially leave as an unrestricted free agent with Boston. The team recently traded for Kris Dunn ($5 million) as a backup defensive first Guard. Smart is aiming at a $17 million per year contract per reported contract extension negotiation talks taking place; Schroder could easily pick up such a salary with a couple of millions more since the salary cap is bound to increase post COVID.
Should soon to be 28 year old Schroder have a long career as his former OKC Thunder teammate Chris Paul, he should be eligible to sign for very good money (Lowry esque type of money with Miami Heat) with new TV money flowing into the league once the present deal expires after the 2024-2025 season. Plus the remaining $53 million and two years left on Al Hordford’s deal could be easily jettisoned after this season should young Centers Robert Williams and Bruno Fernando improve thereby clearing more space on the cap sheet Schroder can take up. Jaylen Brown’s below the market salary for a player of his ilk helps Schroder’s big payday ambitions too.
Schroder thrives off scoring on drives to the basket and with several poor shooters on the Lakers last season, the German couldn’t score enough to get his confidence up to knock down three pointers and jump shots. LeBron James was the primary playmaker and limited Schroder’s touches that made him tend to do too much when his number was called only to end up forcing the issue and make several mistakes.
With Boston’s ingrained egalitarian offense under General Manager Brad Stevens and new Coach Ime Udoka-a disciple of Gregg Popovich-Schroder will get touches in the flow of the offensive scheme to get him involved enough to produce his OKC Thunder numbers again. Schroder lost this one but on paper (not forgetting his very solid health bill) he could end up winning the free agency game for a while.
By Yaw Adjei-Mintah
@YawMintYM on Twitter