The deal would be part of a larger three-way trade that sends Minnesota All-Star power forward Kevin Love to the Warriors. The Lakers are interested but the deal has been put on hold because of a difference in opinion within the Warriors’ organization whether or not to keep Thompson while trying to obtain Love.
Thompson, 24, averaged 18.4 points last season for the Warriors and became one of the league’s most potent three-point shooters. He is under contract for $4.5 million next season before becoming a restricted free agent.
Thompson increased his scoring average by almost two points last season and improved his shooting percentage from 42.2% to 44.4%. He made 41.7% of his three-point attempts last season.
The Lakers are debating what to do with the pick if they hang onto it. They have sold or traded every first-round pick they’ve had since 2007 and do not have one next season because of the Steve Nash trade.
They are pondering whether to go with a power forward or point guard. They have narrowed their focus to big men Aaron Gordon, Julius Randle and Noah Vonleh or point guards Dante Exum, Marcus Smart and Elfrid Payton.
When free agency begins July 1, the Lakers will have only three players making guaranteed money next season — Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash and Robert Sacre. Point guard Kendall Marshall has one year left on a non-guaranteed contract.
A player on the rise such as Thompson would obviously provide more immediate return than an amateur player with no NBA experience.
The Lakers, though, are also interested to see if Kansas center Joel Embiid falls to them with the seventh pick, assuming they don’t trade it. Embiid had surgery to repair a stress fracture in his right foot Friday and could miss part or all of next season.
He was a top-three pick for sure, and perhaps the top overall pick, before the surgery was announced. He has become prone to injury this year, missing the Jayhawks’ only two NCAA tournament games because of a stress fracture in his back.