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Report: Dennis Schröder in negotiations with Celtics

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The Lakers free agent guard Dennis Schröder watched money dry up after reportedly declining a four-year, $80-million extension last year with LA. Boston is limited in what it can offer.

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

Dennis Schröder is among the few significant unrestricted free agents remaining nearly one week after the windfall of cash fell over a flurry of opening free agent signings. His LA Lakers addressed point guard with a blockbuster Russell Westbrook trade, making him all but expendable and filling much of its remaining roster space with role players that fit around the team’s new big three.

Major players in the point guard market like the Mavericks, Pelicans and Heat already spent their money. So one of the few teams remaining with a tangible need at the position is the Boston Celtics. Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report tweeted that the Celtics and Schröder are in negotiation on what would likely be a prove-it style contract for the veteran guard.

Michael Scotto reported that the Celtics would utilize a non-taxpayer mid level exception for a one-year deal, or two years with a player option. He wrote “the Celtics and Schröder have interest in a short-term deal.”

That’s because Boston is currently limited in what it can offer Schroder. With no cap space, only some form of the mid-level exception is available to Brad Stevens. Once the delayed Tristan Thompson trade inevitably goes through and lands Kris Dunn and Bruno Fernando in Boston, the Celtics are out of roster spots following yesterday’s Enes Kanter signing.

So what’s the shoe to drop that could usher Schröder into Boston? Adam Himmelsbach initially reported the Celtics could reroute Dunn’s one-year, $5 million contract to open a roster spot. That could be part of what delayed the original deal from happening before the Kanter trade exception expired that Dunn would’ve fit into for Boston in the previous league year.

If Stevens successfully clears Dunn’s salary, it would free the Celtics down to roughly $132-million in salary. That would be enough to free up a one-year, $9,536,000 contract that would provide Schröder a competitive salary for this season and get him back into free agency next year — while allowing Boston to keep its summer, 2022 cap space free. A full mid-level deal for Schroder would hard cap the Celtics at $143-million though, hampering their flexibility throughout the regular season into next year’s draft.

A $5.9-million taxpayer mid-level exception would cost the Celtics less in luxury tax this season and avoid a hard cap. It’s unclear if that would be enough to land Schröder in Boston, but given his market dry-up it just might be for the playing time Boston could provide. A sign-and-trade to land him in Boston is all but doubtful, given that the Celtics would have to sign Schröder to a three-year contract to acquire him via sign-and-trade.

Schröder finished second in NBA Sixth Man of the Year voting in 2019-20 with the Thunder before they traded him to the Lakers for Danny Green and a first-round pick. He averaged 18.9 points per game that season thanks to a bump in three-point shooting to 38.5%. His efficiency regressed to 33.5% from outside with LA last season, returning to more of a facilitating role with 5.8 assists per game before struggling at 40% from the field in six playoff games for the second consecutive postseason. He’ll be 28 in 2021-22.