It would hurt. It would sting. Yes, it would be crushing. But if the Warriors trade rumor mill is to get rolling in earnest, there is no better catalyst than a six-game losing streak, which is exactly where this team finds itself now. And over at The Ringer, they’re proposing a doozy, a deal that would send away Klay Thompson, but bring in Bull star Zach LaVine.
Let that soak in. The plusses are obvious. LaVine is a star scorer who would be an ideal No. 2 option next to Steph Curry. Thompson has been terrible to start the year (13.8 points, 40.1% shooting, 32.8% 3-point shooting) and the attempts to get a contract extension signed have gone nowhere.
The negatives are equally obvious. It’s Klay Thompson. He should be left out of any and all Warriors trade rumors until he retires.
Here’s how writer Danny Chau of The Ringer put it:
“LaVine can offer just about everything lacking in the Warriors offense. Chris Paul no longer seems capable of reliably hitting shots—is this how the Warriors wash their hands clean of a potentially misguided oil-and-water experiment? At worst, acquiring a talent like LaVine could cost the team’s soul. Would Golden State trade Thompson, one of the pillars of its dynasty, along with draft capital to right the ship? Is that unconscionable? Of course it is.”
Klay Thompson Would Make Sense in a Deal
But when it comes to Warriors trade rumors, fact is, Klay Thompson is going to make the most sense in a move, if the Warriors are to acquire a star in return. The financials dictate that.
Thompson is at $43 million for this season, the last of a five-year, $190 million contract he got in 2019, after he suffered an ACL tear in that year’s NBA Finals but before he suffered a torn Achilles tendon injury a year later.
Moving him allows the Dubs to take back a player of about the same salary, and LaVine qualifies, at $40 million. The Bulls are hard-capped under NBA rules, but are far enough below the $172 million threshold that they can afford to take on Thompson. For Chicago, adding Thompson will allow them to be free of LaVine’s remaining money because Thompson has an expiring contract. The Bulls would demand draft compensation, though, likely two first-round picks, to make the deal worthwhile.
Is Zach LaVine the Right Warriors Trade Rumor Target?
The Bulls likely would be amenable to that kind of deal. But is it a worthy Warriors trade rumor?
That depends on whether the Warriors see LaVine as a guy who can fix the team’s offensive problems. He is an adept scorer who has become a better team player over the years, and is averaging 22.6 points with 4.9 rebounds and 3.0 assists. That’s off his recent averages, mostly because he has been struggling with his shooting, making just 42.4% from the field and 33.3% from the 3-point line.
The bigger number with LaVine is the $215 million contract extension he signed with the Bulls just last summer. He is due to be paid through 2027, an average of about $45 million per year. That is a big commitment to a No. 2 option, especially one who is not a great defender (LaVine is not).
It’s a big commitment to LaVine, and it the notion of a Warriors trade rumor that ditches Thompson is tough to swallow.
But, Chau writes, “If the goal is to win with Steph while they still can, LaVine presents an interesting, heartbreaking solution. LaVine’s no Kevin Durant, but he’d probably step in as the most potent pure scorer the team has put next to Curry since KD.”