The biggest dominoes of the NBA's free-agency point guard market have already started to fall. Chris Paul is all but assured to re-sign with the Phoenix Suns, and Kyle Lowry is expected to join Jimmy Butler in Miami via a sign-and-trade.
From there, league personnel continue to ask where Dennis Schroder will land in this summer's spending spree. The Los Angeles Lakers hope to net returning talent in a sign-and-trade involving the 27-year-old, and they have not ended their search for ways to land Buddy Hield.
However, it appears the Lakers have not been in extensive contact with Schroder and his representatives, sources told Bleacher Report, and the two sides do not seem to be working in tandem ahead of the new league year beginning at 6 p.m. ET Monday. A sign-and-trade requires agreement from both teams and the free agents involved.
Several teams do still appear to be in play for Schroder. The Chicago Bulls, New York Knicks, New Orleans Pelicans and Washington Wizards all have an apparent need at point guard.
There's a strong sense around the NBA that the Bulls will extend a four-year, roughly $80 million offer sheet for Lonzo Ball. However, Chicago brass did contact executives and personnel around the league over the weekend, sources told B/R, exploring contingency plans centered around Schroder, DeMar DeRozan and Richaun Holmes should the Pelicans proceed to match the Bulls' offer.
There seems to be legitimate traction on a three-team sign-and-trade framework between Chicago, New Orleans and Charlotte that would likely nullify any of the Bulls' fears of losing out on their preferred point guard target. From conversations with multiple league sources, the framework that would be discussed appears to focus on landing Ball in Chicago, Devonte' Graham in New Orleans and Tomas Satoransky, Josh Hart and draft capital to Charlotte.
Satoransky has a known fan in Hornets head coach James Borrego, but several league personnel have suggested he could end up in New Orleans. Perhaps this deal ends up including only the Bulls and Pelicans.
In any case, these talks can only begin in earnest once free agency opens, and the conversations will remain fluid. But should some version of this Ball-to-Chicago sign-and-trade come to fruition, New Orleans would have enough cap space left over to engage with Schroder. And if Graham also arrives in the Bayou, that would bring a two-guard backcourt with more shooting and enhanced playmaking ability around Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram.
Washington and New York would also still seem to be options for Schroder. For Schroder to join the Wizards, he could become part of an expanded deal that ultimately sends Russell Westbrook to the Lakers. Spencer Dinwiddie has been linked more to Washington than Schroder has.
In either scenario, the Wizards would have about $18 million to offer both guards before getting close to tricky luxury-tax territory, according to multiple cap analysts contacted by B/R.
New York may be the best destination for Schroder. The Knicks are widely rumored to have centered their sights on Evan Fournier, whom New York general manager Scott Perry once traded for when he was in Orlando's front office. That would add the secondary ball-handler the Knicks desire, assuming the Bulls poach Ball and Derrick Rose.
A potential Fournier deal would likely be a three-year contract worth around $18 million annually, according to league sources.
Alec Burks is also expected to re-sign with the Knicks on a three-year agreement worth roughly $30 million. Nerlens Noel seems likely to return to Madison Square Garden on a deal worth slightly more than $10 million annually.
That would leave New York with plenty of space to still offer Schroder the salary numbers he seeks. But at this point, it seems that scenario would involve the Knicks signing their new point guard to a short-term agreement rather than the four-year framework it's believed he wants. Schroder turns only 28 in September, so he could be in line for another lucrative contract before he exits his prime.
Cam Payne is expected to return to Phoenix in the ballpark of $6 million per year.
Will Barton seems likely to re-sign with Denver on a two-year agreement worth slightly over $32 million.
T.J. McConnell appears to be headed back to Indiana.
Jake Fischer covers the NBA for Bleacher Report and is the author of Built to Lose: How the NBA's Tanking Era Changed the League Forever.