- Nick Friedell, ESPN Staff Writer
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CHICAGO -- Klay Thompson's shooting prowess has ended a lot of team's nights over the past few seasons. Now his name alone may end the Chicago Bulls' pursuit of Minnesota Timberwolves All-Star Kevin Love.
In the latest twist to the Bulls' pursuit of a big-name star, ESPN's Chris Broussard reported Thursday that Thompson's name has been discussed as a possibility by the Golden State Warriors in a swap to Minnesota for Love.
The addition of Thompson into the potential deal puts another roadblock up for a Bulls organization that would still love to add Carmelo Anthony, but is keeping a watchful eye on what's happening with Love, the 25-year-old All-Star.
ESPNBoston.com's Jackie MacMullan recently reported that the Bulls already had a solid offer into the Timberwolves in exchange for Love, an offer that at the time was viewed as better than anything the Boston Celtics, among others, had pitched up to that point.
But the news that the Warriors have included Thompson's name in the discussions changes the game. Thompson, who averaged 18.4 points a game last season, is just 24 years old and is getting better. ESPN.com's Marc Stein reported Thursday that, according to sources, the Warriors would be willing to deal Thompson, David Lee and a first-round pick to land Love.
While it's unclear exactly what the Bulls offered the Timberwolves, it's a safe bet that everyone besides Joakim Noah is a possibility. While Noah is not completely untouchable, he is the closest thing the Bulls have to a player in that category given his importance to the locker room and to Tom Thibodeau's defense.
Derrick Rose isn't going anywhere because of his max contract and the uncertainty surrounding his knees. So the Timberwolves are left to choose from a group that includes Taj Gibson, Jimmy Butler, Carlos Boozer's expiring contract, the rights to Nikola Mirotic and/or draft picks. The Bulls, who have the 16th and 19th picks in next week's NBA draft, would rather not part with Gibson given that he is in the middle of a team-friendly contract and just had the best season of his career.
But even if Gibson's name were included in potential trade discussions, would a combination of Gibson, another asset, and picks be enough to trump the star power of Thompson? That's the decision that Timberwolves new coach/front office czar Flip Saunders must make. If the goal is to be able to trade Love and land several solid NBA players and a couple mid-round picks then the Bulls still may have a chance to pry Love out of Minnesota.
But if Saunders' goal is to land a player he can start building his team around alongside Ricky Rubio, then the Warriors' offer is going to be tough to beat. They have a team full of Gibsons and Butlers. What they don't have, and what they continue to seek, is a pure scorer of Thompson's caliber.
What's important to also keep in mind regarding any potential Love deal, is that the Bulls aren't going to make a trade for him unless they know for sure that he will sign an extension in Chicago. Reports have said that Chicago is high on Love's priority list, but it is unclear whether he would re-sign with the Bulls.
If he doesn't, and is still insistent on opting out of his current contract this season, all the rumors surrounding a possible future playing alongside Rose become moot.
9dMatt Walks, ESPN.com