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Dennis Schroder returns to Lakers despite ugly end to previous L.A. stint

Oh, how things can change in a year.

Veteran point guard Dennis Schroder is signing with the Los Angeles Lakers, returning him to the same team that unceremoniously let him go last summer, the team announced Friday. The contract is a one-year, $2.4 million deal, according to The Athletic's Shams Charania.

Schroder is coming off a season split between the Boston Celtics and Houston Rockets, in which he averaged 13.5 points and 4.6 assists per game while shooting 43.1% from the field (34.4% from deep). Before that, well, he was playing for the Lakers.

Dennis Schroder's first stint with the Lakers was a disaster

Schroder first joined the Lakers in Nov. 2020, with high expectations for the then-defending champions. The German basically replaced Danny Green, a frequent target of Lakers fans' ire, in the starting lineup after a career season with the Oklahoma City Thunder, in which he was runner-up for NBA Sixth Man of the Year honors.

There was enough hype around Schroder that the Lakers reportedly offered him a four-year, $80 million extension, which he rejected in favor of entering free agency the next season. Unfortunately for Schroder, he ended up becoming one of the faces of the Lakers' struggles that season, to the point that franchise legend Magic Johnson was publicly calling out his competitiveness.

Schroder eventually hit free agency with significantly decreased value and signed a one-year, $5.9 million with the Celtics, much less than what the Lakers offered. Meanwhile, the Lakers decided to replace him with Russell Westbrook, whose own struggles in Los Angeles are well known at this point (almost like there's a pattern here).

Schroder's numbers didn't change significantly with the Celtics and Rockets, who traded for him in midseason, though he did very well for himself at FIBA's EuroBasket this month. Playing for Germany, the 29-year-old averaged 21.6 points and 7.3 assists per game, culminating with 30 points in an elimination loss to Spain on Friday.

The Lakers bringing back Schroder probably says more about the team than the player.

What does Dennis Schroder signing mean for Russell Westbrook?

As bad as Schroder's time with the Lakers was, it has nothing on the abject disaster that was Westbrook's first season with the Lakers.

What's more, Westbrook is still under contract for $47 million for the Lakers next season, which is basically the only reason the team hasn't traded him at this point. Finding a taker for Westbrook's contract has undoubtedly been hard, but the Lakers' addition of Schroder and other recent moves might indicate the team is finally making some progress.

The Lakers traded for Patrick Beverley, another veteran guard, last month, and the team's backcourt is starting to look quite crowded. In addition to Westbrook, Schroder and Beverley, the team also has Lonnie Walker IV, Kendrick Nunn and Austin Reaves on board, not to mention the fact that LeBron James might be their best option at point guard anyway.

With all those players ready to take Westbrook's minutes, plus a reported assurance for James that the team is willing to trade its 2027 and 2029 first-round picks, the writing could be on the wall for Westbrook.

Los Angeles Lakers guard Dennis Schroder looks to pass the ball during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Cleveland Cavaliers Friday, March 26, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Dennis Schroder is back with the Lakers. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)