Love and Thompson Trade Could Force them into Free Agency

Kevin Love trade speculation has been bandied about ever since reports came out that Kevin Love has decided that this coming year would be his last with the Minnesota Timberwolves and that he will opt out of his deal to pursue free agency in 2015 if not dealt.

The Boston Celtics, Denver Nuggets and Chicago Bulls have all been rumored to be in trade discussions with the Wolves for Love, but today it seems that a front runner has materialized. ESPN reported that the Golden State Warriors have proposed a deal for Love that includes Klay Thompson and David Lee which has piqued the interest of the Wolves.

The Wolves have very little leverage in trade talks with it being known that Love is out the door at year’s end and being limited to working with teams that are either on Love’s list of preferred destinations or teams willing to trade for Love without assurances that he’ll re-sign; despite being in a poor negotiating position, the offer from Golden State is fair considering the circumstances. They would receive a player in David Lee who is a 2 time All-Star, plays the same position as Love and does many of the same things, albeit not nearly at the level of Love. In addition, they would get a sharp shooting guard in Klay Thompson who is coming off a season that was borderline All-Star level and still has the potential to become a star with him only being 24 years old.

The trade would place two players that are nearing the point in their contracts where they will have the option of testing the free agent market in situations that could force their hand to leave their new ball clubs high and dry.

In Love’s case it would be unlikely that he would opt to leave his situation with Golden State. Love has stated he has a desire to play for a team that gives him an opportunity to win and the supporting cast of the Warriors would certainly do that with players like Steph Curry, Andre Iguodala, Harrison Barnes and Andrew Bogut. Love would be back on the west coast where he has ties to both Oregon where he grew up and Los Angeles where he has born and has family. Nevertheless, the uncertainty of a new situation, new city, higher expectations to win and new teammates could easily turn awry. Also, as nice as the bay area is, its not Los Angeles, a place that he has long been rumored to be enamored with since his time playing with UCLA.

In a more likely scenario, Klay Thompson could very well decide to leave Minnesota when he is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent in 2016. Thompson will likely not be happy to be moved from his very comfortable spot in Golden State where he has developed into one of the best two way guards in the NBA and formed a winning nucleus that includes his fellow “Splash Brother”, Steph Curry. A person who has a pretty good idea how Klay would feel about being moved to Minnesota is his Father, Mychal Thompson who expressed those feelings on ESPN 710 AM radio in Los Angeles.

One of those teams waiting to pounce on the first opportunity that a young and talented star becomes available in free agency is the Los Angeles Lakers who have positioned themselves to be players in the free agent market with an abundance of cap space. If both the Love and Thompson trade is completed and their situations with their respective new teams fail, it could open the door for a team like the Lakers to take advantage over the next 2 years.

Conceivably, the Lakers could sign Love to a max deal in 2015 and the following season, with Kobe Bryant’s contract off the books, can sign Klay Thompson in 2016. The scenario to play out would need many things to occur, such as the Lakers not commiting to any other large contracts over the next 2 years and that both Love and Thompson become miserable in their new situations. The scenario of both players landing in L.A. seems far-fetched, but not impossible and increases in probability with the completion of the rumored Love for Thompson trade.

– Fern Rea

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Writer & NBA fan who’s been hooked since the days of Magic v Bird. Love basketball debates without it ending in a knife fight. My BBall nickname: “Todo El Dia” (All Day.) Hit me up on Twitter @fullcourtfern or Instagram: @raining3sdotcom