Golden State Warriors Klay Thompson talks with his father Mychal on May… (Rocky Widner / Getty Images )
If Dwight Howard tells the Lakers he wants to go to Golden State in a trade, two things can help make it happen: Klay Thompson and Harrison Barnes.
The Lakers have not given up on re-signing Dwight Howard, but are considering what will make sense if the summer’s biggest-name free agent wants to be dealt to the Warriors.
Golden State guard Stephen Curry was on a can't-touch list, but young up-and-comers Thompson and Barnes would appease the Lakers, who were fine with trading with a division rival if the deal made sense, according to a person familiar with the situation.
Golden State's involvement is easiest the most complicated of the five teams chasing Howard.
Unlike Dallas, Houston and Atlanta, the Warriors are over the salary cap, meaning they must do a sign-and-trade deal to pry Howard from the Lakers, as per rules of the collective-bargaining agreement.
The Warriors, though could try to get under the cap and sign Howard as a free agent by trading three big-contract veterans: Andrew Bogut ($14 million next season), Richard Jefferson ($11 million) and Andris Biedrins ($9 million). Jefferson and Biedrins have been unproductive in recent years, making it tough to trade them, but it becomes more likely if future first-round picks are attached in the deals as well, according to ESPN.com.
If the Warriors can't find enough takers for their three high-priced veterans, a trade with the Lakers is the only way to get Howard.
It will cost them Barnes and Thompson.
Thompson, 23, averaged 16.6 points and shot a solid 40.1% from three-point range last season as a second-year shooting guard. He was selected 11th overall in the 2011 draft and is the son of Lakers’ radio analyst Mychal Thompson.
Barnes, 21, averaged 9.2 points as a rookie and came alive in the playoffs, averaging 16.1 points and 6.4 rebounds in six entertaining games against San Antonio before the Warriors were eliminated.
Barnes, a 6-foot-8 small forward, was drafted seventh overall by the Warriors last year.
If the Lakers acquired Barnes and Thompson, it would barely dent their planned free-agency shopping spree next summer.
Barnes has three more years remaining on his contract and Thompson has two more, which would give the Lakers a total of three players under contract after next season (Steve Nash).
The Lakers would still have an estimated $40 million to spend on a 2014 free-agent class that could include LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Zach Randolph and Rudy Gay.
Howard has been in Aspen, Colo., since Tuesday, pondering his NBA future in the ski-resort town after wrapping up meetings with his five suitors in Los Angeles.
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