SBNation is doing a fun theme today: imagining a 2-team expansion of the league. I was given the parameters of protecting 8 Chicago Bulls for this mock expansion draft.
The decision seemed actually quite easy: protect the young cheap players, let everyone else (potentially) go.
Nikola Mirotic is still a restricted free agent so he wasn’t technically eligible. I’m not sure I would’ve considered him protected even if playing on a 1-year qualifying offer. If he was signed to an affordable, multi-year contract, then maybe he’s kept as a future trade asset. But if he was on a 1-year deal he’d have a no-trade clause anyway.
Whether it would’ve been for Mirotic or David Nwaba, Jerian Grant would be the first on the chopping block. I debated Nwaba or Grant, and simply just know/like Grant more as a player. They’re both affordable and young. One thing going for Nwaba is he plays the wing position while the Bulls have 75 guards to take Grant’s spot, but Nwaba was also just picked up on waivers, setting his value around the league to pretty low. I doubt he even would get selected.
There are some guys who may actually be claimed by this expansion team. There’s also Cameron Payne.
Nobody actually wants to see Dwyane Wade play, so that’d work out nicely if the new team wanted to sell jerseys or at least get a fat 1-year contract and just drafted him. More likely could be Robin Lopez, though while a contributor may not be what a presumably young team would be looking for. He and Holiday are signed for 2 seasons, and I don’t consider either much of a trade asset so it was more comfortable to leave them exposed.
There’s also the underlying factor of the Bulls ineptitude cornering them into a situation where their best chance at a young star is through losing a lot of games, so even losing players of value like Lopez or Holiday could ironically provide a boost to the team’s long-term future by really revving up the tank. It’s not something I’m sure I would pursue, but if it so happened and cleared their contracts it isn’t the worst scenario.