The Splash Brothers era may not be for long in Golden State, with the Warriors now reportedly willing to include Klay Thompson in an offer for Kevin Love, according to Marc Stein of ESPN.com. Golden State was reportedly hesitant to part with Thompson in a proposed deal for Love, but has apparently changed course. According to Stein, the decision to make Thompson available in a deal greatly increases Golden State's chance of acquiring the Minnesota power forward.
The two teams are currently discussing a deal which would send Love, Kevin Martin, J.J. Barea and the No. 13 pick to Golden State for Thompson and David Lee, according to Chris Broussard. Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! reports Martin and Love for Thompson and Lee are the focus of the talks.
Why this makes sense
NBA Free Agency
NBA Free Agency
Golden State's interest in Love has been well known for a while. He would be a perfect fit as a stretch power forward in Steve Kerr's offense and the thought of Love and Stephen Curry running pick-and-rolls might give opposing coaches nightmares. Initial rumors had the Warriors potentially offering Lee and Harrison Barnes in a package for Love. That wasn't likely to get Golden State very far in the bidding process. Lee and his bloated contract aren't overly enticing and Barnes' stock has been dropping, not rising. If the Warriors were going to make a serious run at Love, they likely needed to include either Curry, Thompson or Andrew Bogut. There is zero chance they would put Curry in a deal, the Timberwolves might not be interested in Bogut, and if they were, his departure would leave a major void in Golden State. That leaves Thompson as the most likely chip to be offered.
The 24-year-old Thompson has improved on both ends of the floor in each of his three NBA seasons. He's one of the better three-point shooters in the league and has become a solid to above-average defender. You could make a good argument he's one of the top shooting guards in the NBA and he would interest most teams, including Minnesota.
The rumored deal would give Golden State a scoring replacement for Thompson in Martin while sending a young cornerstone piece to Minnesota. The Timberwolves could keep Lee, or possibly flip him in another deal in an attempt to add multiple parts. By dealing for a known commodity in Thompson, the Wolves would have less risk than in a deal where the main return is draft picks.
Why this doesn't make sense
Thompson is a nice player and would give the Timberwolves another good young piece to build around. With his contract, Lee doesn't add much value to the deal, at least initially. Taking on the contract gives the Timberwolves a burden they'd eventually need to rid themselves of. When you're trading one of the top players in the NBA, you should probably get more back than a nice young player and an albatross of a contract.
David Lee, Photo credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
From the Warriors' perspective, replacing Lee with Love is a proverbial home run. It isn't without issue or risk, though. Love could prove to be a one-year rental unless he agrees to a contract extension. Trading away Thompson for one year of Love would put the Warriors all-in next season. The team would also lose one of its top defensive players and likely replace Thompson with Martin. A starting lineup with Curry, Martin and Love would put tremendous defensive pressure on Andre Iguodala and Bogut. Golden State would need to score a ton of points, because it won't slow down many opposing offenses.
Likelihood: 6 out of 10
For Golden State, there is a lot to like. As good as Thompson is now and as good as he could be, Love is still the superior player. If the Warriors can add Love to the core of Curry, Bogut and Iguodala, that is a move they likely need to make, even if it costs Thompson. Thompson is also about to get very expensive as he approaches free agency. Cashing in on his value while also ridding themselves of Lee's contract and adding a player the caliber of Love makes a lot of sense.
The biggest issue with the latest rumors is the question of whether a Thompson and Lee package is really the best the Timberwolves can get in return for Love. Thompson is a good player with the potential to be great. He's not an All-Star, at least not yet, and may never be. Thompson is the type of player teams sometimes include in a deal just to rid themselves of a contract like Lee's rather than the prize in a trade for one of the best players in the league.