The Atlanta Hawks did as they had to. Now it’s up to time and the hoped-for development of their young point guard to determine whether or not Hawk fans will truly be encouraged by what, at this point, feels more “appropriate” than “franchise-altering.”
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Fourth-year guard Dennis Schröder was signed to a four-year, $70 million contract extension on Wednesday, ESPN’s Marc Stein and Zach Lowe were the first to break the news. The move came on the eve of Schröder’s debut as a (hoped-for) season-long starter as Atlanta starting point guard, with the Hawks opening their 2016-17 campaign at home against Washington on Thursday night.
Schröder, who averaged 11 points and four assists per game last year in only 20 minutes per contest, was drafted directly out of a German professional league in 2013. He bided his time for three full seasons in reserve of point guard Jeff Teague, an All-Star in 2014-15, as the Hawks made hay as a mover in the East. With Teague dealt to the Indiana Pacers during the offseason in exchange for rookie swingman Taurean Prince, though, it was obvious that Schröder’s time has come.
As such, you have to lock that stuff up:
— Dennis Schröder (@DennisMike93) October 26, 2016
The point guard broke the news when he posted a picture on social media of general manager Wes Wilcox and himself signing the new contract. The contract is guaranteed at $62 million, with $8 million in incentives, for an average annual salary of $15.5 million. The contract length and amount were confirmed according to a person familiar with the situation. The Hawks officially announced the deal Wednesday evening that will keep Schroder in Atlanta through the 2020-21 season.
“I am excited to sign this long-term deal with the Hawks,” Schroder said in a statement released by the team. “Since coming from Germany as a rookie, this organization and the entire city of Atlanta has embraced me and watched me grow. I would like to thank my teammates, the coaching staff and the front office for having faith in me. I’m determined to keep improving as a player and I believe that our team has a chance to accomplish some special things together.”
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Schröder is a 6-foot-1 waterbug that often plays much bigger, and he only turned 23 in September. Per 36 minutes a contest in 2015-16, the guard averaged 19.5 points, 7.8 assists, 4.5 rebounds and 1.6 steals a contest, mitigating those encouraging numbers with 4.1 assists given up during that same time frame. As a starter in only six games during that campaign, he compiled averages of 13.7 points, 5.5 assists, 3.8 rebounds and two turnovers a contest in just under 29 minutes a performance.
The winsome point guard, as of this writing, is not much of a shooter. This hardly dissuades him, unfortunately, as Dennis launched heaps of 3-pointers in 2015-16 despite making just 32 percent of his looks from long range. He gets to the line a respectable amount, but Schröder too often falls in love with his pull-up jumper driving (leaning, then falling away …) right instead of fully turning the corner to get to the tin.
This would be understandable if Schröder were a full-time point man in his first three seasons, biding his time over the course of a long game and conserving energy. It was his job, however, to set the opposition’s reserve units on their ears with his derring-do, and consistency was a problem. As is often the case with raw talents at such a demanding a position.
Dennis Schröder has been charged with leading the Hawks as a starter since NBA draft night, though, a four-month promise that would seem to engage him since the summer’s get-go. An offseason spent preparing for life as a full-time point guard with myriad duties that aren’t limited to busting, say, Ramon Sessions in the second quarter of games could do wonders for Schröder’s confidence and culpability.
Due to the early trade of Teague, though, the Hawks were also pressed into the knowledge that they were bereft of point guard options with their young leader. Reserve point guards Jarrett Jack and Will Bynum were let go over the summer, with 27-year-old rookie Malcolm Delaney (after five seasons of significant international pro experience in his pocket) acting as the team’s only reserve.
This would seem to put Dennis in prime negotiating position, right?
It would appear as if Dennis is a Schroder negotiator than I. https://t.co/SvISKzpSfW
— Mason Ginsberg (@MasonGinsberg) October 26, 2016
According to ESPN and the AJC, the contract (which starts in 2017-18, as Schröder is on the last year of his rookie deal at over $2.7 million this season) needs to have incentives met in order to vault up to $70 million over the length of the deal. It will pay Schröder until he is 27, leaving him in line for another massive pay raise to see him through his prime.
For now the team (which had until Oct. 31 to come to extension terms with Schröder, otherwise he would have become a restricted free agent this summer) appears to have gotten great value in supplying a potentially very good team’s most important starting position at an average of just $17.5 million a year (if incentives are met).
The ongoing quibble, which may not be resolved for years, is if Dennis Schröder is still the right player to act as lead guard on a very good team, at any price. Pen struck to paper won’t immediately dissuade those from dissecting his game in harsh terms.
On the eve of his unveiling, with little choice but to commit, both sides appear to have made the correct move.
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