There is talk that the NBA could be expanding in a few years to at least Seattle if not two cities. If it happened today, who should Phoenix keep?
As was discussed briefly this week on Sirius/XM NBA Radio, the NBA might be looking to expand back into Seattle at some point in the near future. If they did, that team would be an expansion team and not a re-location one, meaning that the league would then want to expand a second time to add an Eastern Conference team and balance the league back out.
If NBA owners did decide to expand the league by two teams today, the prevailing understanding is that every team would be allowed to protect a maximum of eight players, while leaving all others available to be poached by the new franchise’s. Odds are in a situation where two teams are picking that at least somebody from every team will be selected, so if a current team leaves anybody good available, there is a good chance he will be gone.
So in that case, if the league held an expansion draft today, who would Phoenix protect?
*Note – The NBA would probably hold the expansion draft before the rookie draft and free agency so this is a little funky in regards to the timing. However, if for whatever reason the league needed to hold the expansion draft in July after both the rookie draft and free agency, they would most certainly add caveats and additional protections to players recently signed to contracts or just drafted.
Certainly the Suns for instance would not have to be in a circumstance that they would ever leave Deandre Ayton unprotected. If for whatever reason they had eight players already on the roster that they needed to protect, the league would allow an additional protection to the first overall pick.
That said, the 2018-19 Phoenix Suns do not have eight must keeps and thus the necessity to have an additional protection for Ayton, so that won’t be something to worry about here.
Let’s look at the roster one-by-one and break down who those players could hypothetically be that would most likely to be left unprotected: