If the NBA were to expand, the Wizards would have to protect 8 players in an expansion draft

There seems to be a lot of reports that the NBA will expand over the next few years and may even announce the news ahead of this NBA season. The two most likely candidates seem to be Las Vegas and Seattle. Adam Silver recently said there are no specific plans at the moment, but it could be in their future plans. Why is this relevant to the wizards?

Well, enlargement historically meant there would be an enlargement draft. In the past, expansion teams selected up to 14 players from existing teams. Existing teams were allowed to protect up to 8 players and only risked losing one player during the Expansion Draft process.

To take stock of the current Wizards roster, I thought it would be interesting to see who the Wizards were likely to protect if the draft expansion came out now. On this week’s Bleav in Wizards podcast, we analyzed the roster and determined who would make sense for the Wizards.

If the expansion draft took place today, Bradley Beal, Kristaps Porzingis, Daniel Gafford, Monte Morris and Corey Kispert all seem like guaranteed lockdowns. Deni Avdija probably showed enough that they would protect him. And it would be a bad look if you left your last lottery ticket unprotected, so I’d imagine Johnny Davis would be safe too.

That leaves another open spot. Kyle Kuzma, Rui Hachimura, Will Barton, and Taj Gibson are all in the last year of their deals, so we don’t have to include them for this hypothetical discussion. That leaves Delon Wright, Isaiah Todd, Anthony Gill, and Vernon Carey Jr. Given those choices, I think Wright would be the most likely to stay.

Wright passes the ball in a preseason game against the Warriors.
Photo by Takashi Aoyama/Getty Images

An alternative thought I brought up in the podcast revolved around how different this exercise might look in 2024, a more likely timeframe for such a design. Is there a world where if Bradley Beal didn’t live up to his contact, the wizards would leave him unprotected for an expansion team to take their hands off and erase their salary cap? I would find it quite unlikely based on my expectation that they will always be able to recover at least some positive value for him in a trade.

I also checked the NBA’s expansion limitation rules to see if a no-trade clause prevented it in the first place. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any clear answers. So even if they wanted to, I’m not entirely sure I could. Again, this probably won’t come to fruition, but at least I found it interesting enough to consider bringing it up again both on the podcast and here.

If the number of protected players went from 8 to 6, who do you think the Wizards should be trying to protect?

Leave a Comment