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Sunday Poll: In An Expansion Draft - Who Would You Let Go?

What if the NBA were expanding again? Which Phoenix Suns rotation player would you leave unprotected, if forced to pick someone?

Akis Yerocostas of wants to find out.

He's lain out some rules (after the jump), that basically allow us to protect 8 guys on the current roster who are under contract for AT LEAST two more seasons, including those on rookie contracts.

Click the jump for the rules, and a breakdown of the Suns' current roster before you vote...

When you vote, leave a comment as to why (money, strategy, etc)

Da Rules, from Akis:

Just for fun, I've wanted to do an article for my blog on what a prospective NBA Expansion team would look like if one were to come into the league next year. This is purely hypothetical, and I realize that if the NBA were to add an expansion team, it likely would not be for a while (especially with a possible lockout coming next year), but I still think it could be a fun exercise.

I'm contacting each of you to act as the heads of the team you blog about, and to select the players that you would protect on your team. Here are the rules:
  1. I must select 14 players from teams, who are either under contract or restricted free agents at the end of the 2010-11 season
  2. I can't select more than one player from any team.
  3. I can only select players that are unprotected by your team.
  4. Each team can only protect up to a maximum of 8 players on its roster who are either under contract or are restricted free agents at the end of the 2010-11 season.
  5. Each team will designate which of its players are unprotected and thus eligible for selection.
  6. Each team must have at least one player eligible for me to select, even if the team doesn't have 8 players under contract/RFA at the end of the 2010-11 season.
  7. Any player I select that is under contract at the end of the 2010-11 season will be placed on the imaginary expansion team.
  8. Any Restricted Free Agent I select will automatically become an Unrestricted Free Agent, but I now have their bird rights
  9. Unrestricted free agents (that's contracts who expire at the end of 2010-11 without being rookie scale) are not eligible to be protected or selected by me.
So, let's narrow this down...

Current Suns who are excluded from this exercise, because they are unrestricted after 2010-2011:
Jason Richardson, Grant Hill and Dwayne Jones

That leaves 11 players, from which we can protect only 8.

PG Steve Nash (2 yrs, 22 mil remaining)
PG Goran Dragic (RFA, would become a UFA in this case)

SG/SF Josh Childress (5 yrs, 33 mil remaining)
SG Matt Janning (2 yr, 1.2 mil remaining, all non-guaranteed)

SF Jared Dudley (RFA, would become a UFA in this case)
SF/PF Earl Clark (RFA, would become a UFA in this case)
SF/PF Hedo Turkoglu (4 yrs, 44 mill remaining, 4th yr 1/2 guaranteed)

PF Hakim Warrick (4 yrs, 18 mil remaining, 4th yr non-guaranteed)
PF Gani Lawal (2 yrs, 1.2 mil remaining, 2nd yr non-guaranteed)

C Channing Frye (5 yrs, 30 mil remaining)
C Robin Lopez (RFA, would become a UFA in this case)

Frankly, we're faced with some obvious choices to protect. A smart organization does not let go of key young pieces on manageable contracts. They also don't make their star available.

Off the table:
Nash, Dragic and Lopez

That leaves 5 spots remaining for protection.

But who else would you protect? Who would hate to lose, more than anything? Do you keep youth over veterans? Or veterans over youth?

Or, do you throw your long-term contracts out there so the expansion team doesn't bite on anyone?

Now it's your turn to vote.

If you're curious about my own thinking, keep reading...

I won't take the easy way out and give away a guy we acquired this summer (Warrick, Turkoglu or Childress). It's just too easy to give away someone who hasn't yet had a chance to steal our hearts.

So 3 more players are protected, giving me 6 protected players overall (with Nash, Dragic and Lopez):

Now I can only protect TWO more of the following players.

Janning and Clark are obvious candidates to leave unprotected.

But among Dudley, Lawal and Frye, who would I leave unprotected for an expansion draft?

If I leave Dudley unprotected, I'm giving away our youngest proven swingman. Richardson and Hill may just be gone next summer. At that point, we'd have a swingman rotation of Childress, Duds and Turkoglu, assuming a PF is acquired some time in the next year. Why give away a reasonable contract with a great attitude and ability to change games just on hustle?

If I leave Lawal unprotected, I'm giving away a potential future starter at PF. Lawal might turn into a great steal, but how high can his ceiling be? If he was THAT talented, someone before pick #46 would have taken him right?

If I leave Frye unprotected, I'm further disrupting the current team and giving away a guy who really set the league on fire last year and just might get even better over time. Yet, his contract is pretty big for a backup C and there is a possibility that he might regress if he doesn't expand his game.

In the end, I'm picking.....

Frye, to be left unprotected.

Why? Because his contract is big and long enough (6+ mil a year soon), old enough (27 already) and his repertoire is one-dimensional enough that I don't think he would be drafted by an expansion team. They would rather take high-ceiling kids than older big-contract folks, I would think.

Now make your call...

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