Trading Klay Thompson isn't an option the Golden State Warriors are in love with.
Not even if it means landing Kevin Love.
Rumor-mill mayhem ensued once Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski revealed that Love let the Minnesota Timberwolves know he won't remain with them beyond next season. The general consensus was always that Love would leave during free agency in 2015, but his purported impatience forces the Timberwolves to explore trades sooner rather than later.
Enter the Warriors.
Sources told ESPN.com's Marc Stein and Ramona Shelburne that the Warriors are among the teams that "intrigue" Love. And unlike many of their counterparts—ahem, the New York Knicks—they have the assets to get trade negotiations up and running.
Here's the catch: The Warriors don't want to trade Thompson, who is eligible for a contract extension, according to Bay Area News Group's Marcus Thompson.
Teams never want to trade valuable players. If they wanted to deal them, they wouldn't be as valuable. Parting ways with a burgeoning sharpshooter, who makes up one half of the NBA's best backcourt, would never be an easy loss to stomach.
But this is Kevin Love we're talking about, a three-time All-Star, grower of beards and video-game stat-poster. Like Bleacher Report's Grant Hughes says, to land him, you give up what you have to:
Talents like Love don't come cheap—even when their current teams are dealing from a position of weakness. But the chance to add a superstar doesn't roll around all that often, and Love isn't just any superstar.
He's an absolutely perfect fit for what the Warriors need.
So if it takes Lee, Barnes and Green, or Lee and Thompson plus a little more, the Dubs must pull the trigger.
While making his astute point, Hughes does indirectly offer another: The Warriors might not have to trade the Splash Brother.
Packaging David Lee—a two-time All-Star himself—with Draymond Green, Harrison Barnes and a future first-round pick could be enough to get this deal done. Golden State can even up the ante by agreeing to assume one of Minny's unfavorable multiyear deals (looking at you, Chase Budinger).
The Timberwolves have next to no leverage in negotiations, remember. Proposals from other teams will be tempered if Love doesn't provide assurances he's going to re-sign. A Thompson-less return may still be the best offer they field.
So you don't enter discussions desperate, guns blazing, dangling Thompson right off the bat. You feel it out. Dip your feet in before diving head-first. Try calling Minnesota's bluff.
Push comes to shove, though, Thompson cannot be off limits.
"We are going to re-sign Klay Thompson," Warriors owner Joe Lacob told 95.7 The Game in April. "I will say that unequivocally."
No one associated with the Warriors can say they won't trade Thompson. Not unequivocally.
Not when we're still talking about Kevin (freaking) Love.