With Klay Thompson expected to sit out yet another full season after tearing his right Achilles tendon, the Golden State Warriors could theoretically replace his offensive output by trading for Chicago Bulls guard Zach LaVine, Bleacher Report wrote on Friday.
As explained by the outlet, Thompson’s injury may have been a major setback for the Warriors in their hopes of returning to the championship picture after finishing with the NBA’s worst record in 2019-20. Although the team made a move for Kelly Oubre Jr., sending a protected 2021 first-round pick to the Oklahoma City Thunder in order to acquire the small forward, the publication recommended making yet another deal to prove their “continued commitment to winning” in the 2020-21 season.
The trade idea for LaVine would involve shipping Andrew Wiggins, Alen Smailagic, the 2021 first-rounder Golden State acquired earlier this year from Minnesota, and their top-seven protected first-round pick in the 2023 draft to Chicago in exchange for the high-scoring guard. This deal would also allow the Warriors to acquire veteran forward Thaddeus Young from the Bulls.
Although LaVine is far from being the same player Thompson is on the defensive end, the outlet explained that he’s a “dangerous” spot-up shooter who could contribute significantly on offense. His status as an “empty-calories” producer of points was also mentioned, though he might be able to shake this label if he serves as a second option on offense to Stephen Curry. Last season, LaVine averaged 25.5 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 4.2 assists while converting on 45 percent of his field-goal attempts and 38 percent of his shots from beyond the arc.
Regarding Young’s contributions to the Warriors, if the proposed transaction pushes forward, Bleacher Report wrote that he remains valued as a help defender who could handle the wing players that would have normally been assigned to Thompson. The site added that he could also be used as a big man when the team decides to unleash its faster-paced small-ball lineups.
As for the Bulls, the publication cautioned that the plausibility of the hypothetical trade would depend on whether the organization is willing to absorb Wiggins’ contract, which will pay him an “exorbitant” $94.7 million over the next three seasons. However, the two lottery-protected first-round selections were described as two future assets that could “grease the wheels of contemplation” for Chicago as it continues to rebuild in the comparatively weaker Eastern Conference.
In addition, Bleacher Report speculated that the Bulls could also ask for a pick swap or that a promising young player such as Eric Paschall be included in the Warriors’ package to sweeten the deal. However, the site concluded that regardless of the terms, the franchise “would not be unwise” to take a gamble on parting ways with their top scorer.