There were many layers to Dennis Schröder’s arrival in Oklahoma City. He was traded there as part of a three team deal in which the Thunder were able to part ways with Carmelo Anthony. Prior to being traded he had discussed his future, and then potential role with Head Coach Billy Donovan and General Manager Sam Presti where it was made clear: you aren’t the star here. Dennis would have to take on the role of sixth man on that iteration of the Thunder. He did so swimmingly, putting up averages of 15.5 points and 4.1 assists per game. While those statistics don’t exactly hop off the page they far surpass that of his predecessor Raymond Felton, who averaged 6.9 and 2.4, respectively, the year prior.
Fast forward to this year. A new team, a new goal in mind. Dennis continues to turn some heads during games, as well as force others’ into the palms of their hands. Dennis can be erratic, turning the ball over, forcing up bad or contested shots, and gambling too much defensively. At other times, though, he has been one of the best players on the court for the Thunder. He is a scorer off the bench with the ability to be a primary ball handler/playmaker as well. His first step is deadly and the intensity that he approaches each possession with is unrivaled.
All of this is going to waste where he is. It’s no secret the Thunder are in no position to vie for a playoff spot. Dennis had been in a similar situation in Atlanta, which was part of his willingness to accept a reduced role in OKC. While he is still young (26) he has paid his dues on a team with no hope for the playoffs much–less the Finals–and lucky for him, he has been playing well enough for other teams to covet what he can add to their team.
Obviously OKC will be looking for one of or a combination of three things in any trade that they are involved in before the deadline:
- Young players with high potential
- Future draft compensation
- Expiring contracts
Without further adieu, let’s dive into the potential suitors for the Schröder.1
In identifying suitors you have to weed out teams that already have a solid option for a backup point guard. You also likely have to weed out the teams not fighting for playoff positioning. So salutations to the Lakers, Clippers, Spurs, Blazers, Nuggets, Rockets, Jazz, Mavericks, Heat, Celtics, Bucks, Raptors, Nets, and Pacers.
Trade 1: Minnesota Timberwolves
Minnesota gets: Dennis Schröder
OKC gets: Jeff Teague
Why the Wolves do it: Jeff Teague is an old man. The guy is 31. And he plays like it, shooting his lowest percentage from the field and three point line since his rookie year. He just can’t break guys down off the dribble anymore. Dennis is five years his junior, has the ability to drive past his man to the basket, and can create shots for himself and his teammates. Karl Anthony-Towns is having a career year, as is Andrew Wiggins. Schröder could be the missing piece to unlocking their offense and ushering them into the playoffs.
Why the Thunder do it: Pretty boring reasons. Teague is more expensive this year, but he is on an expiring contract. Dennis is more expensive collectively as he has another year left on his deal. The Thunder do this for future financial flexibility, and nothing else. Pretty funny sideplot: Teague finding himself another starting gig and here comes Schröder to screw it up for him again, like he did in Atlanta.
Trade 2: Orlando Magic.
Orlando gets: Dennis Schröder, Andre Roberson
OKC gets: Evan Fournier, Mo Bamba, Magic 2020 First Round pick
Why the Magic do it: Dennis has proven he can be a starting point guard in the East, and it can be argued that he could take that spot right away in Orlando. I trust Markelle Fultz about as far as I can throw him; having Dennis on your team not only gives you a scoring punch off the bench but a capable starter should Fultz forget how to shoot again. Andre Roberson hasn’t played on the court since that gruesome injury almost two years ago, and may never again. But he is an expiring contrast at worst, which gives Orlando financial flexibility to spend on more frontcourt players. And at best, you have a lockdown defender to couple with Jonathan Isaac. Terrifying. Also. you don’t have to pay Evan Fournier $17 million this season and next. Yay.
Why the Thunder do it: Mo Bamba hasn’t been given a fair shake in Orlando. His potential is through the roof and he could be the next young complimentary piece OKC needs alongside Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Darius Bazley to build this team around. Fournier is on a worse, and longer contract than Dennis, but this trade collectively puts OKC underneath of the taxline. The pick isn’t super sexy, but combined with the 2-3 the Thunder looks to have in this upcoming draft and watch Presti go to work draft week.
Trade 3: Phoenix Suns
Phoenix gets: Dennis Schröder
OKC gets: Tyler Johnson, Mikal Bridges
Why the Suns do it: It’s no secret that Tyler Johnson was severely overpaid by Miami back in 2016. Enter Schröder, who is scoring more than 10 points per game over Phoenix’s backup point guard Elie Okobo. Factor in Ricky Rubio’s injury history, Dennis’s capability to start at point guard, and the fact that Bridges has underperformed in his short tenure on the Suns. This is easy.
Why the Thunder do it: Take on more money than what you had and eat Johnson’s ridiculous contract? Yes, I get it, but this team should make more moves to get under the tax line, and Johnson is on an expiring deal. Bridges hasn’t lived up to the hype thus far, but will be given plenty of opportunities alongside Shai as the Thunder grow and develop. He could become an elite scorer with lockdown capabilities. Sign me up. Plus, considering his 7’1″ wingspan for his 6’7″ frame, you know Presti is drooling as we speak.