The absolute dream trade target for the Golden State Warriors

Utah Jazz v Golden State Warriors
Utah Jazz v Golden State Warriors / Thearon W. Henderson/GettyImages

Right now the Golden State Warriors' championship hopes aren't necessarily dead in the water, but they're not exactly swimming fluently above the surface either. A myriad of issues has seen the franchise fall behind, currently 11th in the Western Conference with a 9-11 record.

As trade speculation grows amid their struggles, there's almost always one common denominator should they wish to acquire a star -- it would nearly assuredly cost them one of their current big salaries, likely Chris Paul, Klay Thompson or Andrew Wiggins.

There is one ideal trade target for the Golden State Warriors who not only fits perfectly, but would allow them to retain their current big name players.

Letting go of either Paul, Thompson or Wiggins would be a tough decision to make, and one General Manager Mike Dunleavy Jr. may be ultimately unwilling to make.

Paul's played well for the Warriors, he isn't the issue. Wiggins' value is at its lowest point of the last few seasons and he should be trusted to bounceback and become the valuable two-way players he's proven to be. Thompson, meanwhile, is one of the franchise's all-time great players and dealing him may simply be too painful an exercise.

There's perhaps only one genuine star that could be acquired while retaining all three of Paul, Thompson and Wiggins, as well as Stephen Curry and Draymond Green. Enter Lauri Markkanen.

The Utah Jazz forward signed a four-year, $67.5 million deal with the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2021 offseason. Following his trade to the Jazz for Donovan Mitchell, Markkanen won the league's Most Improved Player award in 2022-23 after averaging 25.6 points and 8.6 rebounds per game.

Markkanen is a supremely skilled seven-footer, capable of doing just about everything offensively. He can be an incredibly dangerous catch-and-shoot threat off the ball, while possessing the ability to put the ball on the floor and make plays from all three levels.

The Finnish international is currently making just $17.2 million this season -- one of the league's most valuable contracts. That makes him gettable should the Warriors throw in all their chips -- Jonathan Kuminga, Moses Moody, Brandin Podziemski, Trayce Jackson-Davis, future picks, and add in Cory Joseph for salary filler (after December 15).

Not only do you get Markkanen for this season, but you get him next season at $18 million. That's unlike other potential targets in Raptors pair Pascal Siakam and O.G. Anunoby who can each be free agents this offseason.

Forget the contractual status for a second...Markkanen is literally the perfect fit regardless of salary. He solves the Warriors two biggest holes right now -- a legit secondary scorer behind Curry, and a skilled forward that you can plug in between Wiggins and Green.

Adding Markkanen wouldn't just put the Warriors back into championship contention, it might just put them in the same bracket as the Denver Nuggets and Boston Celtics at the very top of the league. They'd be left with a starting five of Curry, Thompson, Wiggins, Markkanen and Green, while still having Paul, Kevon Looney, Gary Payton II and Dario Saric off the bench -- would there be a better top nine in the league? Unlikely.

The beauty with Markkanen is that he's still just 26-years-old, so he could forseeably develop into your number one player as Curry phases out. However, that's just the reason why it's unlikely Utah will want to trade him -- they're far away from any kind of contention, yet Markkanen is still young enough for that timeline.

Still, he's a realistic enough target for The Ringer's Kevin O'Connor to recently contemplate whether the Jazz would "listen to an all-in offer" from the Warriors. If there's any chance the franchise can get its hands on the 2023 All-Star they should make it happen, particularly if the struggles continue over the next two months.

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