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

All reporting seems to indicate the NBA will look to expand in the next few years which would mean an expansion draft.

NBA Japan Games Saturday Night Presented by Rakuten/Nissan - Golden State Warriors v Washington Wizards
Kyle Kuzma and Bradley Beal in Japan.
Photo by Stephen Gosling/NBAE via Getty Images

There seems to be a lot of reporting that the NBA will look to expand in the next several years and may even announce the news prior to this NBA season. The two most likely candidates appear to be Las Vegas and Seattle. Adam Silver has recently said there are no concrete plans in place at this time but could it be in their future plans. So why is this relevant to the Wizards?

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

As a way to take stock of the current Wizards’ roster, I thought it would be interesting to look at who the Wizards would likely protect if the expansion draft were to occur now. On this week’s Bleav in Wizards podcast, we dissected the roster and who would make sense for the Wizards to hold onto.

If the expansion draft were to occur today, Bradley Beal, Kristaps Porzingis, Daniel Gafford, Monte Morris, and Corey Kispert all seem like guaranteed locks. Deni Avdija has likely shown enough that they would protect him. And leaving your most recent lottery pick unprotected would be a bad look so I would imagine Johnny Davis would be safe as well.

That leaves one more open spot. Kyle Kuzma, Rui Hachimura, Will Barton, and Taj Gibson are all on the last year of their deals so we don’t have to include them for the sake of 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 put.

Washington Wizards v Golden State Warriors - NBA Japan Games
Wright advancing the ball in a preseason game against the Warriors.
Photo by Takashi Aoyama/Getty Images

One alternative thought I raised on the podcast was centered around how different this exercise might look in 2024, a more likely timeframe for such a draft. Is there any world where if Bradley Beal isn’t living up to his contact the Wizards would leave him unprotected for an expansion team to take off their hands and clear their salary cap sheet. I would find it pretty unlikely based on my expectation that they will always be able to recoup at least some positive value for him in a trade.

I also reviewed the NBA’s expansion cap rules to see if a no-trade clause prevented this from even happening. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any definitive answers on that. So even if they did want to do that, I’m not entirely sure I could. To reiterate, this is not likely to come to fruition regardless but I found it at least interesting enough to consider that I brought it up both on the podcast and again here.

If the number of protected players dropped from 8 to 6, who would do you think the Wizards should try to protect?