A couple of weeks ago, NBA commish Adam Silver mentioned that NBA expansion was “inevitable” for the league (Supes!). Naturally, that had the hoop heads at SB Nation pondering the possibilities and what might happen to current teams were they subjected to an expansion draft.
NBA teams would protect eight players and make the remainder of their roster available for an expansion draft. No more than one of the available players could be drafted, so chances are none of those available players would be picked.
As part of the thought exercise in late July, I submitted eight Pacers from the then 15-man roster to protect from the SBN NBA mock expansion draft. Using a long-term outlook for the organization and individual players, I landed on the following players to protect.
Myles Turner, C, T.J. Leaf, F, Glenn Robinson III, G/F, Cory Joseph, G, Domantas Sabonis, F, Victor Oladipo, G, Thaddeus Young, F, Lance Stephenson, G
So that left the following seven players available for the expansion draft, of which only one could be selected. Again, current contract status and long-term impact on the organization were taken into consideration.
Available for Expansion Draft
Kevin Searphin (no longer an option after signing with a team in Spain), Darren Collison, G, Bojan Bogdanovic, F, Al Jefferson, C, Joe Young, G, Ike Anigbogu, F/C, Damien Wilkins, F
As it turns out, Seraphin was a good choice since the Pacers released him prior to his contract becoming guaranteed on Aug. 1. At the time, I considered swapping Seraphin for Thad Young based on salary but decided there remained more value in Young both with a short and long-term outlook.
Young is valuable in a couple of ways aside from the fact he's a versatile veteran forward and starter in the league. For one, he is a veteran presence to provide NBA life lessons on the court (and off too) for what is now a youthful front court with T.J. Leaf, Domas Sabonis and Ike Anigbogu joining Myles Turner.
Plus, depending on how the season plays out, Thad could be a valuable asset around the trade deadline as contending teams look to fill a gap in their roster to prep for a championship run. So protecting Thad avoids having him selected and taken from the Pacers for nothing.
A similar argument could be made for Darren Collison and Bojan Bogdanovic, two players the Pacers obviously like because they just signed them this summer. But when looking at the core players the organization is focusing on, neither player appears to fit in the team's long-term plans since they were signed to only two-year AND not fully guaranteed contracts.
I would assume that in an expansion draft that DC or Bogdanovic would be the most likely of the unprotected players to be the one player selected. They are both NBA caliber players that can fit a role as starter or reserve. Plus, with favorable contracts, the expansion team would maintain flexibility in their long-term planning.
Now, if I was allowed a "do over" I may swap out Lance Stephenson and Darren Collison. The Pacers may actually appreciate the flexibility Collison offers, as well even if his contract isn't as pleasant as Lance's. Plus, in the expansion draft the team is losing one player at most, maybe none at all. Considering Lance's history with several teams outside the 317 area code, he may be a lower risk to be selected in the expansion draft.
Regardless, these aren’t easy decisions but were there an expansion draft, this would be a perfect time for the Pacers as they rebuild for the rebirth Kevin Pritchard is planning.
So the question is posed to you: What changes would you make to my protected list and why?
Also, stay tuned to Sonics Rising for their expansion mock draft.