(Editor’s note: We are starting our individual reviews of all players from the Houston Rockets who finished the 2021-22 season with the team. To access other reviews as part of this ongoing series, click here.)
Rockets Player: Dennis Schroder, 6-foot-1 guard, 28 years old
2021-22 statistics in Houston, Boston: 13.5 points (43.1% FG, 34.4% on 3-pointers), 4.6 assists, 3.3 rebounds in 28.7 minutes
Professional Experience: 9 NBA seasons
Contract Status: Unrestricted free agent in 2022 offseason
Schroder was acquired by the Rockets as part of a deal at the Feb. 10 trade deadline sending Daniel Theis to Boston. Houston does not have Bird rights to help retain the veteran floor general in the 2022 offseason, since he was playing on only a one-year contract this season. That may have contributed to the Celtics’ willingness to send Schroder to Houston, since it inherently diminishes the likelihood of a re-signing.
Actually, biggest surprise was probably Schroder being so deferential and such a good mentor. I was expecting him to come in gunning for his next contract, on brand with his reputation. I hope he’s back next year.
— RedNinetyFour (@RedNinetyFour) April 9, 2022
Schroder struggled as a shooter in Houston, making just 39.3% of his shots and 32.8% on 3-pointers. But it’s likely that was randomness from a small sample, since Schroder only played 15 games with the Rockets.
Overall, Schroder still showed the quick first step that has enabled much of his NBA success over the years, along with reliable ball-handling and a solid feel for initiating the offense at point guard. Head coach Stephen Silas frequently raved about Schroder’s veteran leadership and the influence he was having on many of his younger teammates.
From a basketball perspective, Schroder provided value as an insurance policy relative to third-year point guard Kevin Porter Jr. (the starter) and rookie backup Daishen Nix. With both players relatively unproven, the presence of Schroder offered Silas a steady hand as a facilitator to help bolster the development of young prospects like Jalen Green.
Yep. My hope is that they resign Schroder to a short-term deal and platoon him and Nix. I wasn’t expecting it, but Schroder brings out the best in Jalen. He’s a decent placeholder for now. https://t.co/MzSOvcZfcP
— RedNinetyFour (@RedNinetyFour) April 4, 2022
Because Schroder was playing on a one-year contract this season, the Rockets will not have Bird rights to potentially help with re-signing him this offseason — even if they do see a longer-term role for him. However, it could be feasible for the Rockets to re-sign Schroder at the allowed rate of 120% relative to his current $5.9-million salary.
Houston could also theoretically offer Schroder its non-taxpayer mid-level exception (NT-MLE), which is likely to start at approximately $10 million. However, that would appear unlikely, since general manager Rafael Stone isn’t likely to cut into his potential 2023 salary cap room to that extent for a player who will be 29 years old next season.
A lot of you asked why I want Schroder back. I’m big on the interpersonal stuff that you catch during timeouts and such. He seemed like a really calming influence and this backcourt is young. He also didn’t hog the ball like I expected.
— RedNinetyFour (@RedNinetyFour) April 16, 2022
Bottom line: There are a lot of ifs. For example, Schroder reportedly wanted a $100-million contract last offseason before the market dried up and he chose to sign for a one-year, $6-million deal with Boston. That deal was clearly done with the intention of getting Schroder back to free agency a year later, and with another shot at landing a mega-deal. While that type of contract appears unlikely based on Schroder’s good-but-not-great season in 2021-22, an effort will certainly be made.
Even if Schroder is again forced by the market to take a smaller contract that is within Houston’s realistic range, 29-year-old veterans often prefer winning situations over rebuilding ones. Would Schroder be willing to sign for a lower amount and do it for a team like the Rockets? Many players in his position choose contenders, not just for the potential of winning a championship but also out of hope that extra exposure from a deep playoff run could boost the finances of their next contract.
Finally, there’s also the possibility that Stone and the Rockets decide to make Nix the full-time backup point guard in his second NBA season. If that’s the case, it’s hard to envision Houston paying much above the league’s minimum salary (almost certainly not enough for Schroder) to a veteran that might not be in the rotation when everyone is healthy.
In short, while a reunion between Schroder and the Rockets isn’t impossible, there are enough variables to make it less likely than likely.