The Kevin Love rumor mill will be loaded with reports and information in the coming week, and the latest report has the Golden State Warriors significantly increasing their chances of obtaining the three-time All-Star by including Klay Thompson in a potential deal.
ESPN's Marc Stein reported Thursday that, after initially being hesitant to include Steph Curry's backcourt mate in a deal for Love, the Warriors have warmed up to the idea of offering Thompson, power forward David Lee and a first-round pick in exchange for the 25-year-old Love.
Thompson, 24, is coming off a career-best year in which he averaged 18.1 points, 2.8 3-pointers on 42 percent shooting from deep, and shot 44 percent from the field. In just three seasons the 6-foot-7 Thompson has distinguished himself as one of the game's best shooters, thriving in the Warriors' up-tempo, shot friendly offense. Lee, 31, just missed out on his third All-Star Game appearance, averaging 18.2 points, 9.3 rebounds while shooting better than 52 percent from the field this past season.
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And that's reportedly what the Timberwolves are looking for. Though many teams have offered up packages of young players and draft picks, president of basketball operations and head coach Flip Saunders is looking for "quality players who can produce right away," according to Stein's report.
In a sense, that would seem to favor the Bulls in their pursuit of Love. Both Jimmy Butler and Taj Gibson, two players mentioned in the Boston Globe's report on the Bulls being reported frontrunners along with the Warriors. Gibson, 28, and Butler, 24, are both experienced players who certainly would help Minnesota on the defensive end, and the Bulls have the luxury of two first-round picks in next week's draft (Nos. 16 and 19).
But with the Warriors offering two bona fide starters, one of which is just 24 years old and has his best basketball in front of him, it's hard to see the Bulls' offer beating out Golden State's. The Bulls could offer more in terms of draft picks or discuss adding the rights to talented European forward Nikola Mirotic, whose name has floated around in potential deals for Love, but at this point it seems the deal is the Warriors' to lose.
While it's true a player as talented and versatile as Love would fit in just about any offense, as an elite stretch forward he would do wonders on a Warriors team that ranked third in the Western Conference in 3-pointers per game last year. Love's pick-and-pop action with Curry, who does his best work from beyond the arc off screens, would form an elite tandem in the Western Conference, where scoring is a necessity. Love's stellar work on the glass -- he's averaged 12.2 rebounds per game in six seasons -- would be a welcome sight alongside Andrew Bogut, an elite rebounder in his own right.
This could all change in a day, but if Stein's and Holmes' reports are any indication, Steve Kerr and the Warriors have the inside track on securing one of the game's best players.