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Mock NBA expansion draft: Warriors, Clippers, Lakers, Suns, Kings

Mock NBA expansion draft

TORONTO, ONTARIO - JUNE 10: Kevon Looney #5 of the Golden State Warriors is defended by Marc Gasol #33 of the Toronto Raptors in the first half during Game Five of the 2019 NBA Finals at Scotiabank Arena on June 10, 2019 in Toronto, Canada. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)

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The NBA season is on hiatus. NBC Sports is not – even if we have to venture into fantasy.

We’re holding a mock NBA expansion draft. Keith Smith is setting protected lists for existing teams. Kurt Helin and Dan Feldman will run two new teams as this project culminates in an expansion draft.

Current teams can protect up to eight players. Each team must make at least one player available. If selected, restricted free agents become unrestricted free agents. Pending options can be decided before or after the expansion draft at the discretion of the option-holder. Anyone selected in the expansion draft can’t return to his prior team for one year. Players entering unrestricted free agency and players on two-way contracts are essentially ignored.

We’re unveiling protected/unprotected lists by division (here is the Atlantic Division and the Central Division). Players are listed with their 2020-21 salary. Up now, the Pacific:

Golden State Warriors

Protected – 8


  • Stephen Curry - $43,006,362
  • Klay Thompson - $35,361,360
  • Andrew Wiggins - $29,542,010
  • Draymond Green - $22,246,956
  • Marquese Chriss - $1,824,003 ($800,000 Guaranteed)
  • Damion Lee - $1,762,796 ($600,000 Guaranteed)
  • Ky Bowman - $1,517,981 (Non-Guaranteed)
  • Eric Paschall - $1,517,981

Unprotected – 5


  • Kevon Looney - $4,821,429
  • Jordan Poole - $2,063,280
  • Mychal Mulder - $1,517,981 (Non-Guaranteed)
  • Alen Smailagic - $1,517,981
  • Juan Toscano-Anderson - $1,517,981 (Non-Guaranteed)

Ineligible – 0

Analysis: The Warriors have their core together with Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Andrew Wiggins. Ky Bowman, Marquese Chriss, Damion Lee and Eric Paschall provide value on minimum contracts. That’s all the Warriors need to protect.

Golden State wouldn’t mind seeing Kevon Looney or Jordan Poole selected to get the salaries off the cap sheet. The rest of the players are ones the Warriors won’t lose any sleep over if they’re drafted.

L.A. Clippers

Protected – 8


  • Paul George - $34,450,412
  • Kawhi Leonard - $34,379,100
  • Patrick Beverley - $13,333,333
  • Lou Williams - $8,000,000
  • Ivica Zubac - $7,000,000
  • Landry Shamet - $2,090,040
  • Mfiondu Kabengele - $2,075,880
  • Terance Mann - $1,517,981

Unprotected – 2


  • Rodney McGruder - $5,192,307
  • JaMychal Green - $5,005,350 (Player Option)

Ineligible – 4


  • Montrezl Harrell
  • Reggie Jackson
  • Marcus Morris
  • Patrick Patterson

Analysis: L.A. has its main guys with four starters under contract. They aren’t being exposed here. The other three players are key bench contributors on good contracts. And Kabengele and Mann were just drafted. Easy decisions across the board for the Clippers.

L.A. could lose Green as a free agent. The Clippers also bet he does undrafted and could return. Rodney McGruder makes too much money for his role.

Los Angeles Lakers

Protected – 8


  • LeBron James - $39,219,565
  • Danny Green - $15,365,853
  • Kentavious Caldwell-Pope - $8,493,746
  • Avery Bradley - $5,005,350
  • JaVale McGee - $4,200,000 (Player Option)
  • Kyle Kuzma - $3,562,178
  • Alex Caruso - $2,750,000
  • Talen Horton-Tucker - $1,517,981

Unprotected – 2


  • Quinn Cook - $3,000,000 ($1,000,000 Guaranteed)
  • Rajon Rondo - $2,692,991 (Player Option)

Ineligible – 5


  • Anthony Davis – projects Davis opts out before expansion draft
  • Jared Dudley
  • Dwight Howard
  • Markieff Morris
  • Dion Waiters

Analysis: The Lakers and Anthony Davis will work out that he’ll opt out before the expansion draft, which makes him ineligible. The rest of the players are role players that Los Angeles would rather keep around LeBron James than risk losing.

Los Angeles won’t be upset to see Quinn Cook or Rajon Rondo selected. They’re both replacement-level players for the Lakers at this point.

Phoenix Suns

Protected – 8


  • Devin Booker - $29,467,800
  • Ricky Rubio - $17,000,000
  • Kelly Oubre Jr. - $14,375,000
  • DeAndre Ayton - $10,018,200
  • Mikal Bridges - $4,359,000
  • Cameron Johnson - $4,235,160
  • Ty Jerome - $2,303,040
  • Dario Saric – Restricted Free Agent

Unprotected – 5


  • Frank Kaminsky - $5,005,350 (Team Option)
  • Cheick Diallo – $1,824,003 (Team Option)
  • Elie Okobo - $1,663,861 (Non-Guaranteed)
  • Jalen Lecque - $1,517,981
  • Jevon Carter – Restricted Free Agent

Ineligible – 1


  • Aron Baynes

Analysis: Phoenix keeps it simple and protects all the guys who are part of its core. The Suns could have left Dario Saric unprotected, but by protecting Saric, they keep the flexibility to re-sign him as a restricted free agent. The rest are all easy decisions.

Of the unprotected players, none of have established themselves as NBA rotation players. If any are selected, Phoenix won’t lose any sleep over it.

Sacramento Kings

Protected – 8


  • Buddy Hield - $26,431,817
  • Harrison Barnes - $22,215,909
  • Cory Joseph - $12,600,000
  • Marvin Bagley III - $8,963,640
  • De’Aaron Fox - $8,099,627
  • Nemanja Bjelica - $7,150,000 (Non-Guaranteed)
  • Richaun Holmes - $5,005,350
  • Bogdan Bogdanovic – Restricted Free Agent

Unprotected – 2


  • Jabari Parker - $6,500,000 (Player Option)
  • Justin James - $1,517,981

Ineligible – 4


  • Kent Bazemore
  • Yogi Ferrell
  • Harry Giles
  • Alex Len

Analysis: The Kings will protect their five starters and three key reserves. Cory Joseph is a decision-point, but considering De’Aaron Fox’s injury issues, Joseph is too valuable to let walk away.

Sacramento won’t mind if Jabari Parker is selected, but they aren’t going to pay anyone to do it. Justin James has been an interesting prospect, but the Kings won’t stress if he gets selected.