For four months Dennis Schröder has been saying all the right things about the Los Angeles Lakers.
But on Thursday night, after the NBA trade deadline had passed, he opened up and was brutally honest about it.
The German-born point guard was acquired by the Lakers on November 19, 2020, and since then has repeatedly told reporters that he would love to sign a long-term extension with the Lakers.
"From the first day, it felt like we have been together for like a month or two," said Schröder about being with the Lakers. "The chemistry is amazing. That's the reason why I think I want to be here long-term, but like I said before, it's always got to be fair on both ends. If it's fair, then I ain't got no problem. It's going to be great to be here long-term."
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Shortly after the reigning NBA Champions acquired Schröder, they reportedly offered him a two-year, $33.4 million extension. Schröder turned it down.
Talks continued, and on February 16, the Lakers became eligible to offer Schröder a four-year, $83 million deal with a maximum starting salary of $18.6 million.
It is unknown if the Lakers formally made that offer to their starting point guard, but according to sources, the two sides remain far apart in negotiations.
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Sources told NBC LA that the sticking point remains Schröder's desire to sign a multi-year extension that would pay him more than $20 million per season.
This is likely the "fair on both ends" that Schröder has repeatedly told reporters.
Fair for Schröder in the sense that he receives what he is asking for, and fair for the Lakers because he could potentially be offered more than that by other teams in free agency.
The problem with this is that the Lakers currently cannot offer more than the $18.6 million as previously mentioned. Not if they want to agree on an extension during the season.
After the season, Schröder becomes an unrestricted free agent, but the Lakers will hold his Bird rights, otherwise known as the Qualifying Veteran Free Agent Exception.
The rule states that: "a team may re-sign their own free agent player to a contract with a first-year salary of up to the maximum, if that player played for the team for some or all of each of the previous three consecutive seasons."
In the case of Schröder and the Lakers, he changed teams via a trade, and therefore his Bird rights went with him.
That means that the Lakers will be able to go over the salary cap to offer Schröder up to the maximum in the offseason.
However, the relationship between Schröder and the Lakers appears to have deteriorated in recent weeks.
With both sides far apart in contract negotiations, the Lakers reportedly offered both Schröder and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope to the Toronto Raptors in a proposed trade for All-Star point guard Kyle Lowry. The Raptors insisted the Lakers include Talen Horton-Tucker in the trade package, something that general manager and vice-president of basketball operations, Rob Pelinka, was unwilling to do.
When the trade deadline passed, Lowry remained with the Raptors, but the fact that Schröder was mentioned in the trade talks clearly left an impact on the eight-year veteran.
"I mean, it's a crazy business," he said when asked about the trade rumors after the Lakers 101-109 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers on Thursday night. "At the end of the day, I want to play my season out. I said that I want to see my options. I for sure want to be a Laker, but I still want to see my options."
That's a far cry from Schröder's reoccurring comments over the last four months where he constantly confirmed that he wanted to be with the Lakers "long-term."
Schröder's actions even backed those comments up when he purchased a $4.275 million home in Tarzana in late February.
It now seems like the odds of Schröder signing an extension during the season are dead. He said repeatedly during his postgame comments with reporters on Thursday that he wanted to see his options in the offseason.
"After eight years, it's my first time seeing what other people, what other clubs have interest in me," he said. "Everybody's saying I just want to sign long-term with the Lakers, but I want to see my options."
Schröder insisted that being mentioned in trade talks did not elicit any hard feelings, but between the stalled contract negotiations, and the rather public trade rumors, his love for Los Angeles has waned.
"Wherever I go I'm going to be happy with it," Schröder said about his future. "I'm 27 years old. I's my eighth year, and it's a business. At the end of the day we're playing basketball and that's the best job you can have. So wherever you're doing it, whatever organization you're in, you're blessed.
"I've got to do what's right for me for sure, but I want to make sure it's fair for the other players too. And that's what I say all the time. It needs to be fair for both sides, and I'm going to stay with that. So at the end of the day, that's my last word on that. I want to see my options, but I want to be a Laker. So however y'all want to put it on Instagram, Twitter, whatever it is, that's it."
The last word will certainly belong to Schröder who is now showcasing himself to all 30 NBA teams for the remainder of the season and hopefully into the postseason.
The Lakers were the first team to give Schröder an opportunity to start, something he said he always wanted to do and believed he should be doing. Originally, it seemed like he might be willing to give the Lakers a discount on a long-term deal because of it. Now, he's determined to test the free agency market and likely will sign with the highest bidder.