The Los Angeles Lakers could stand to add youth, length and shooting to their perimeter over the offseason.
According to Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times, L.A. is attempting to flip its first-round pick of Thursday's draft (No. 7 overall) for the 24-year-old sharpshooter:
Lakers in talks to acquire Warriors' Klay Thompson for seventh pick in next week's draft, The Times has learned. http://t.co/nx0wyW7Hts— Mike Bresnahan (@Mike_Bresnahan) June 21, 2014
"The deal would be part of a larger three-way trade that sends Minnesota All-Star power forward Kevin Love to the Warriors," Bresnahan reported. "The Lakers are interested but the deal has been put on hold because of a difference in opinion within the Warriors’ organization whether or not to keep Thompson while trying to obtain Love."
Thompson averaged a personal-best 18.4 points in the 2013-14 campaign. He also set career marks in field-goal (44.4) and three-point (41.7) percentages.
The 6'7", 205-pound wing also emerged as one of Golden State's top perimeter defenders. He often took on the Warriors' toughest backcourt defensive assignment, freeing fellow "Splash Brother" Stephen Curry to focus his energy at the opposite end of the floor.
Considering the Lakers' current roster construction—only aging guards Steve Nash and Kobe Bryant and young center Robert Sacre have guaranteed contracts for next season—there's an obvious opening for someone with Thompson's unique skill set.
The threat of his three-point shooting could alleviate some of the defensive heat felt by the 35-year-old Bryant. Even if L.A. brings back Jodie Meeks, now an unrestricted free agent, and Nick Young, who Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News reported "will opt out of his $1.2 million player option," neither brings as much to the defensive end as Thompson.
The Warriors must decide whether Thompson is a player they'd be willing to move. On that end, opinions seem to be split.
Marc Stein of ESPN.com recently reported that the Warriors had made Thompson available in their trade talks with the Timberwolves for Kevin Love. However, Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News said, "The Warriors are making it clear to everyone in the league...that they very much do not want to part with Klay Thompson."
Thompson is eligible to receive a contract extension this offseason, though, which could lead the Warriors to consider testing the market for him. Golden State has more than $64 million on the books for next season, so it might not want to pay top dollar to keep him around:
Keeping Klay Thompson long term means overpaying him wildly. That's reason enough for Golden State to deal him.— Kevin Arnovitz (@kevinarnovitz) June 21, 2014
With eight-figure salaries already committed to Curry, Andrew Bogut, David Lee and Andre Iguodala for the next few seasons, the Warriors could be in need of finding the type of cheap production the draft can provide.
For the Lakers, they have to figure out the logistics of pairing Bryant and Thompson, both shooting guards, on the same perimeter.
History says there's a decent chance the next Lakers coach could make it work. In the 2012-13 season, both Thompson and Bryant spent more than 30 percent of their floor time at the small forward spot, via Basketball-Reference.com. There may be defensive drawbacks on certain nights, but considering the offensive pedigree of these two, the Lakers could wind up dealing more damage than they'd take.
L.A. needs its own injection of young talent, but a proven commodity like Thompson might bring more immediate production. Still in the early stages of his career, he'd also give the Lakers something to build around for the post-Bryant era.
Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak had previously told reporters he would consider trading the team's lottery pick:
Kupchak on possibility of using Lakers lottery pick in a trade, "I think there’s a possibility."— Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) April 18, 2014
Thompson's father, Mychal, spent the last four-plus seasons of his 12-year playing career with the Lakers.
This potential trade is absolutely an option worth exploring for the Lakers. After crunching some financial numbers, the Warriors might consider entertaining the talks as well.