Warriors Named ‘Surprise’ Potential Trade Destination for $215 Million All-Star

Golden State Warriors star Klay Thompson’s decision in free agency could dictate much of how the organization operates the rest of the offseason. However, Bleacher Report’s Greg Swartz believes they should improve the team’s firepower via trade.

Swartz suggests Chicago Bulls guard and two-time All-Star Zach LaVine could present a “low-cost” trade target and considers the Warriors a potential “surprise landing spot.”

“LaVine would be a strong secondary scoring option alongside Stephen Curry, who needs to see his workload begin to decrease heading into his 16th season at age 36,” Swartz wrote on June 23. “Golden State could utilize the 29-year-old in on-and-off ball situations, as LaVine proved he can be a premier catch-and-shoot threat (41.6 percent in his healthy 2022-23 season).

“If Thompson signs elsewhere, LaVine slides into his starting shooting guard spot. If Thompson is brought back …, he could start at small forward alongside Curry, LaVine, Jonathan Kuminga and Draymond Green.”

Gimme the hot sauce, Zach LaVine!@NBCSChicago | @ZachLaVine pic.twitter.com/OcgjQ0m326

— Chicago Bulls (@chicagobulls) January 13, 2024

LaVine – an All-Star in 2020-21 and 2021-22 – is coming off an injury-shortened season, ending his campaign after 23 games to undergo foot surgery.

He has shared footage of his workouts to showcase the progress of his recovery.

Zach LaVine Comes With a High Salary and Injury Concerns

His production was not up to his typical standard, as he averaged 19.5 points and shot 34.9% from beyond the arc. Both were his lowest marks since the 2017-18 season, his first with the Bulls that came amid his recovery from a torn ACL.

LaVine’s injury history and contract have been points of contention for prospective teams. He has appeared in at least 65 games just twice since the ACL tear; in 2021-22 and 2022-23.

LaVine is also owed roughly $138 million over the next three years.

He is going into the third year of a five-year, $215.1 million contract. He will count $43 million against the salary cap in 2024-25 and has a $48.9 million player option for the final season in 2026-27.

That means potentially surrendering assets for a player who could walk as an unrestricted free agent in two years.

The idea that LaVine could opt out would not be entirely negative in this hypothetical scenario since that decision could coincide with Curry, who would be entering his age-38 season. It could also help them get off several of their more undesirable contracts.

Swartz notes that LaVine’s 2024-25 salary is “almost identical” to that of Andrew Wiggins, Gary Payton II, and Kevon Looney.

All three have been linked to potential cost-cutting moves.

Proposed Warriors Trade Lands Bulls Zach LaVine

“The Warriors shouldn’t have to give up any draft picks or members of their young core for LaVine, either, as the Chicago Bulls should be happy getting off his contract and continuing the retooling of the roster following the trade for Josh Giddey,” Swartz wrote.

“This would be a low-risk way for the Warriors to upgrade and provide some insurance in case Thompson leaves in free agency.”

Warriors get:

– Zach LaVine

Bulls get:

– Andrew Wiggins
– Gary Payton II
– Kevon Looney

Wiggins is entering Year 2 of a four-year, $109 million contract extension.

He carries a $26.3 million cap hit in 2024-25 – roughly $17 million less than LaVine alone. But he is also a potential trade candidate. The team is working to duck the luxury tax per ownership’s direction.

Payton’s decision to opt into the final year of his three-year, $26.1 million contract helps clarify the Warriors’ finances.

It also gives them another tool to take advantage of their financial situation if Thompson returns.

Looney is in the final year of a three-year, $22.5 million pact. In May, The Athletic’s Tim Kawakami named him a candidate to be cut or traded as the Warriors looked to shed salary. This would allow them to get something back instead of cutting Looney for nothing.

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