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Los Angeles Lakers guard Dennis Schroder is expected to miss three to four weeks as he recovers from surgery to repair a ligament in his thumb, coach Darvin Ham revealed Monday. Schroder sustained the injury in the Lakers' preseason game against the Minnesota Timberwolves last Wednesday, per LA Times' Dan Woike, where he played just nine minutes. It was Schroder's lone preseason appearance, as he was delayed in joining the team due to work visa issues re-entering the country after spending the summer playing for Germany in the EuroBasket tournament. 

The Lakers signed Schroder to a one-year, $2.64 million deal in September, making it his second stint with the team. The last time Schroder suited up for the Lakers, he averaged 15.4 points and 5.8 assists in 61 games during the 2020-21 season. Schroder was the starting point guard for the Lakers that season, but it's unclear what exactly his role will be amongst a core of point guards that features Russell Westbrook, Patrick Beverley and Kendrick Nunn

Ham experimented with the possibility of bringing Westbrook off the bench in Friday's preseason finale, but Westbrook suffered an injury in that game. If Westbrook fills that Sixth Man role for the Lakers, that could open the possibility of Schroder being the starter again once he recovers. He's already proven that he can be successful starting alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis before, so we'll have to see if Ham chooses to slot him in that position when he returns from injury.

For right now, though, the Lakers will have to start the season without Schroder in the fold. Given that the Lakers already spent most of the preseason without Schroder, it may not be that big of a loss for the team. However, if he's not able to return after this three-to-four-week timeline, it could put L.A. in a precarious spot as it tries to bounce back from a disappointing season last year. Over Schroder's nine-year career he's proven to provide a scoring punch on every team he's played on, whether that's as a starter or coming off the bench. So being without his production for an extended period of time won't be ideal for a Lakers team that is already thin on quality depth.