While most of us spend our lives being painstakingly risk-averse, being an NBA player requires you to be a bit of a gambler.
By gambling on defense, you risk getting punished by a better shot should you fail to get a stop. By gambling during free agency, you risk leaving a favorable situation for one that could derail your career (à la Al Horford). And by gambling at the negotiation table, you risk ending up like Nerlens Noel, who foolishly turned down a 4-year, $70 million pact from the Dallas Mavericks in 2017, only to come crawling back to Mark Cuban with his tail in between his legs to play for a measly $4.2 million. But perhaps eager to out Nerlerns Noel Nerlens Noel, we have Boston Celtics guard Dennis Schröder.
Enticed by the glitz and glamor of
Hollywood playing with LeBron James, the 27-year-old joined the Lakers last offseason with aspirations of becoming an NBA champion. That didn’t exactly come to pass, with King James getting eliminated in the first round of the playoffs for the first time in his entire career. But prior to getting decapitated by the Phoenix Suns in that series, Schröder wasn’t exactly an ideal fit in Los Angeles. He failed to execute with LeBron off the floor, his shooting percentages cratered within Frank Vogel’s offense, and he killed his market value with his listless play in the postseason.
And with unrestricted free agency looming this summer, none of the above would’ve even mattered had Schröder graciously accepted a four-year, $84 million offer from the Lakers that he didn’t even deserve. Yet be it pride, greed, or blatant stupidity, the former Atlanta Hawk believed an even bigger payday was waiting for him on the other side.
Much like Nerlens Noel, it never materialized.
So as Schröder sat idly by waiting for his phone to ring, teams emptied their coffers and spent over $2 billion on his fellow free agent peers—many of whom play the same position. And now that the smoke has cleared and that “insulting” $84 million offer is nothing more than an excruciating mirage, Schröder’s been put in the embarrassing position of having to accept a meager 1-year, $5.9 million wage from the Boston Celtics. Adding insult to injury is the fact that with no other options, Schröder begged to receive Boston’s full mid-level exception of $9.5 million instead, but Boston wouldn’t even grant him that.
That sound you hear is every front office executive in the league laughing hysterically.
With Schröder betting on himself yet again—though this time it’s not entirely by choice—by the end of this upcoming season, if he plays to the level he believes he’s capable of, it’s possible he could have the last laugh. But with cap space looking like an endangered species once again next summer, it’s also extremely likely that the German floor general sidestepped the biggest payday of his career.