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Dennis Schröder and the Celtics can help each other

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Dennis Schröder probably won’t be in Boston beyond this year, but that doesn’t mean the two sides can’t provide what the other wants

Los Angeles Lakers v Boston Celtics Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Let’s not beat around the bush. Dennis Schröder isn’t long for the Boston Celtics. He’s not part of their future. He doesn’t round out a formidable long-term trio alongside Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown.

Schröder is in Boston because he bet on himself and lost, and the Celtics offered him a chance at redemption he’ll try to use to set himself up for another shot at a lucrative contract elsewhere next summer.

It’s a rare pairing in the NBA, one in which both sides agree to come together knowing full well they’ll separate around the same time the following year. However, that doesn’t mean the upcoming season has to come and go without a legitimate purpose for the two parties involved.

We know why the Celtics sought Schroder’s service once it was clear that his market had dropped to within their range. After Kemba Walker was traded to Oklahoma City, Boston’s point guard rotation looked slightly thin. Maybe that would pave the way for Tatum and/or Brown to take a leap as playmakers, but that’s not exactly a safe bet.

Payton Pritchard impressed in his first NBA season. Thrust him into a starting role, however, and you risk forcing the upcoming sophomore to run before he can fully walk.

And though he operates as an initiator at times, do you think the Celtics really want to give more ballhandling responsibilities to Marcus Smart? Given his erratic tendencies, probably not.

Enter Schröder, who will likely come off the bench and add a punch to a second unit that ranked 28th in scoring last season and can ease some of the scoring burdens off the shoulders of Boston’s two young All-Stars. Think of a less talented version of Kemba, only more available and consistent.

It’s hard to pinpoint where the Celtics stand in the Eastern Conference hierarchy. They’re certainly a tier below Milwaukee and Brooklyn. After that, seeds 3-through-10 are up for grabs.

For all the criticism hurled his way, Schröder did average 15.4 points and 5.8 assists per game in a fluctuating role amid injuries to LA’s top guns and is just one year removed from finishing second in the voting for Sixth Man of the Year after a career year with the Thunder.

That’s a legitimate player at a position of weakness for the Celtics who could help nudge them past their contemporaries in the standings. For $5.9 million? Worth it.

If there are only so many people who know what a one-year redemption tour can do for a player, Schröder is one of them, because he got a first-hand look at it from Chris Paul while the two often shared a backcourt in Oklahoma City during the 2019-20 season.

Upon arriving following a messy exit from Houston, CP3 was invested in OKC’s success from the jump. If the title-hungry 34-year-old didn’t want to be on a team that seemed headed for a rebuild, he never showed it. Paul’s focus was solely on the present, which led to some of the best work of his Hall-of-Fame career, which subsequently enticed the Phoenix Suns enough to trade for him the following summer.

By buying into the less-than-ideal circumstances, Paul was ultimately able to orchestrate what he wanted all along and find himself back on a team with legitimate playoff aspirations.

Houston Rockets v Oklahoma City Thunder - Game Four Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The priorities are a bit different for Schröder who wants to set himself up for a massive payday, but the mindset doesn’t have to differ much at all.

Whether off the bench or in the starting lineup, Schröder has the chance to make a real impact on a team that will no doubt command plenty of the national media’s attention. He can make the type of contributions that can entice teams to give him the big bucks if he completely buys into the cause.

The Celtics will set Schröder up for success because doing so can only benefit them in their hunt to enter the upper echelon of Eastern Conference teams. From there, the burden lies on Schröder and just how much he wants to help himself in the ways of his former teammate.