Who should the Trail Blazers protect in potential NBA Expansion Draft?

If the NBA were to expand by adding additional teams, which is something Commissioner Adam Silver said is possible in the not-so-distant future, an expansion draft would take place. The new franchise, or even franchises, assemble its team through an expansion draft.

The other 30 teams can protect eight players on their roster, with the rest eligible to be drafted by the new team. Each of these clubs may not select more than one player from the other thirty, according to the NBA.

In the event there’s an expansion including, say, Seattle and Las Vegas, the Portland Trail Blazers must protect eight players from being drafted by the two new cities.

Who should the Portland Trail Blazers keep safe?

Who do the Blazers protect? Who do they make available? Even though it’s 2022 and assuming Portland is done making moves this offseason, who on the 2022-23 roster do you protect?

The five starters, Damian Lillard, Anfernee Simons, Josh Hart, Jerami Grant, and, Jusuf Nurkić should be protected. Who else should be safe? Without a doubt, Gary Payton II is, especially since he left the Warriors to sign a three-year, $28 million contract and is the backup point guard they’ve needed for quite some time.

According to NBA rules, unrestricted free agents are not eligible for protection. If it’s based on need, Drew Eubanks, perhaps Justise Winslow, and Nassir Little are protected. Likely being the seventh overall pick in the regular draft, Shaedon Sharpe would not be made available.

I’d also consider looking at Jabari Walker a little more based on what he showed at Summer League. This means the additional players (Keon Johnson, Greg Brown III, etc.) would be available to be drafted.

Luckily for fans and management, an expansion draft won’t be taking place this year. Time is on Portland’s side, as we all know there will be plenty of players coming and going by the time this happens.