Dennis Schroder wants out of Atlanta. Maybe.
That is, if he doesn’t become a starter soon, he’ll request a trade. This revelation came as part of an interview with the German magazine Bild (via Sports Illustrated).
“My goal is the starting spot,” the Hawks point guard said. Adding, “If it does not go forward next season, you have to talk to people and look for other opportunities.”
The first part is fine, as there’s nothing wrong with wanting to start for your team. It’s the second part, obviously, that has people talking.
The incumbent starting point guard is Jeff Teague, who’s just 27 years old and was an All-Star last season. He was the pilot behind the controls of a 60-win team.
He’s not going anywhere soon, and potential trade partners know that. All Schroder accomplished with a public trade demand was a weakening of his team’s leverage if they did acquiesce to a future trade demand.
Teams in need of a point guard could come at the Hawks with offers in the coming weeks, just to feel out Atlanta team president Mike Budenholzer.
Budenholzer may feel he can work some magic as a coach, soothe Schroder’s ruffled feathers and save himself the front-office headache. But if an interesting proposal comes along, Atlanta will at least have to entertain it.
Cue the Utah Jazz.
Though no reports of interest from those close to the Jazz have surfaced in the wake of the Schroder news, the fit is there.
Schroder has a history with Jazz head coach Quin Snyder, who had an important role in the young point guard’s development.
According to Aaron Falk of The Salt Lake Tribune, Schroder said, “I was mad,” when asked how he felt about losing Snyder to the Jazz:
That was my guy,” Schroder added. “Every day we worked on different stuff. He told me to be patient, your time will come. He was an important guy to me.”
A strong relationship between coach and point guard is a good place to start. And Utah may fit the mold of a team in need of a starting point guard too.
Trey Burke’s strong preseason notwithstanding, he’s a career 37.4 percent shooter who’s been a net negative (perhaps more because of his defense than his offense) for his team for two seasons.
There’s still plenty of time for him to improve, but at the moment, Schroder is a clear upgrade:
Additionally, Utah’s own promising young 1, Dante Exum, is lost for the season with the torn ACL he suffered in an exhibition with Australia’s national team this summer.
Raul Neto, who Utah brought over from the Spanish ACB this summer, is promising and showed some craftiness in the preseason, but is ultimately unproven.
Depending on what Utah would have to give up, Schroder almost certainly pushes them closer to a playoff berth this season.
But therein lies the problem. What does Utah give up? The team is loaded with young talent, so much so that it may not be willing to give up on anyone in exchange for Schroder.
Burke seems the likeliest candidate, but why would Atlanta want a short-term downgrade off the bench?
This is where Utah’s treasure trove of future draft picks comes into play. In addition to the Jazz’s own picks, they’re owed nine (two of which are first-rounders) between now and the summer of 2018.
Would Burke, who projects better as a backup than a starter, two firsts and two seconds be enough for Atlanta? What if Utah threw in this year’s lottery pick, Trey Lyles?
The most intriguing option may be Alec Burks. In terms of raw talent, he’s among Utah’s best players, but his style may not fit Snyder’s as well as Rodney Hood’s.
The problem there is Burks’s contract, which kicks in this season. To match the $9.5 million Burks makes, Atlanta would have to include trade fodder consisting of two of Mike Scott, Shelvin Mack or Thabo Sefolosha. Of necessity, it’d become a three-for-one deal, something Atlanta likely balks at for Burks (unless he’s playing well this season, in which case Utah never offers him in the first place).
If the Hawks want anything more than Burke, Lyles or Burks, Utah probably walks away (they might even do so before offering Lyles, who the front office seems very high on). Hood has too much potential and fits what Utah’s building perfectly. Every other young player on the roster is undoubtedly part of the core.
The other problem with this potential trade is what happens when Exum comes back. All of a sudden, Schroder is fighting for a starting spot again. The two shared the floor at the 2013 Nike Hoops Summit, and Exum’s size (6’6″) makes that a real possibility in the NBA, but then you’re possibly sacrificing Hood’s minutes for an experiment.
Caveats and cautions aside, though, Schroder is a very promising 22-year old. A mini-Rondo with the potential to actually be able to shoot.
The length and athleticism of a Schroder/Exum backcourt makes for some exciting defensive prospects. And the connection with Snyder can’t be ignored.
If Schroder’s demands become real and untenable at some point this season, players like Burke or Burks could suddenly become very enticing for the Hawks.
Andy Bailey is on Twitter @AndrewDBailey.