The Boston Celtics would be better off trading Dennis Schroder

Boston Celtics guard Dennis Schroder (Photo by Omar Rawlings/Getty Images)
Boston Celtics guard Dennis Schroder (Photo by Omar Rawlings/Getty Images) /

Dennis Schroder bet on himself. He turned down a potential 4-year, $84 million offer from the Los Angeles Lakers, believing he was worth $100 million. When the market for his asking price never materialized, he signed a prove-it deal with the Boston Celtics this past offseason.

Conversely, the Celtics bet on Schroder. They weren’t planning on signing the free agent, but since he was available and willing to play for a discount, Boston signed the motivated Schroder at a bargain.

Three months into the season, the 2021-22 Boston Celtics have been disappointing. If they continue to struggle, it would be best to trade Dennis Schroder.

This Celtics team isn’t a championship contender. It never was going to be. You’re not competing for championships with Juancho Hernangomez and Bruno Fernando on the roster. At this rate, the best case scenario would see the team finishing in the 5-8 seed range, before bowing out of the playoffs in the early rounds.

Those projections seem optimistic as Boston has struggled with consistency and collapsing in the fourth quarter all season long. If they’re destined for a one-and-done playoff appearance, they should stop fooling themselves into thinking Schroder will make a positive difference for this team.

Schroder has a hand in this disappointing season as well. His 16.3 points per game is solid, but he’s doing so at lower shooting percentages than last season (FG from .438 to .425 and 3-point FG .335 to .328) and fewer assists too (5.8 to 4.7).

If the Boston Celtics have any hopes of making the playoffs, they can’t afford to lose the scoring and play-making that Schroder brings to the team. To do so, the Celtics’ best option would be to give Payton Pritchard some more minutes.

By a per game basis, there’s no comparing Pritchard to Schroder. But juxtaposing the two via per 36 minutes, Pritchard closes the gap. Through Friday’s win over the Phoenix Suns, Pritchard averages 13.2 PPG compared to Schroder’s 18.2, while shooting .341 from 3-point range.

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Recently the difference between the two has been shrinking. After being stuck on the bench for much of the season, Pritchard has been coming on as of late, playing with the confidence he showed during his rookie year. In his last seven games Pritchard is averaging 13.1 PPG while shooting .461 from the field (.422 on threes). It’s a small sample size, but encouraging enough to suggest Pritchard deserves more playing time.

On a fully healthy Celtics team, that would be hard to come by. Marcus Smart is the starter, followed by Schroder. Josh Richardson is playing great, so he has to stay in the rotation. And Grant Williams has become an elite floor spacer as well.

A case can be made to cut Romeo Langford’s minutes, but would that be enough to further Pritchard’s development? There’s also the question of Langford and Aaron Nesmith’s development. Do they need more minutes to determine if they can be contributors for the Celtics?

If the Celtics determine development trumps being a playoff speed bump, then trading Schroder is an easy decision. Finding the best return for him could be the challenge.

A contending team would have no problem with Schroder’s $5.89 million salary according to Spotrac. It’s just a matter of matching up the salaries. Hardwood Houdini’s Andrew Hughes recently suggested four teams that should be interested in trading for Schroder.

Adding Enes Freedom and Jabari Parker’s expiring deals, plus Fernando’s 2022 team option deal would be worth nearly $10 million in salary, creating more options. Building a multi-team trade creates myriad possibilities.

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Minutes for a contending team could be the opportunity Schroder needs to showcase his abilities and increase his stock for free agency in 2022. And the Celtics would free up more minutes for Pritchard and get an additional draft pick, possibly a first rounder.

Then we’d have to hope that Boston Celtics President of Basketball Operations Brad Stevens does a better job of drafting outside the lottery than Danny Ainge did.