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SB Nation Mock Expansion Draft: Timberwolves Protected Players

SBN is doing a mock expansion draft. Which eight players did we protect?

NBA: Minnesota Timberwolves at Phoenix Suns Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Later today, SB Nation is conducting a mock expansion draft, and asked each team site to choose eight players to protect from their roster.

You can see everyone’s protected lists and watch the process unfold here, with the draft happening starting around 11 am CDT today.

In truth, this was not a difficult process for me. First of all, the Wolves only have 11 players under contract for next season right now. Second, when looking at the group, the choices seemed fairly obvious. The Wolves do not have enough young and/or inexpensive talent to make these decisions tough.

Here are the guys I protected:

Karl-Anthony Towns
Andrew Wiggins
Jimmy Butler
Gorgui Dieng
Jeff Teague
Tyus Jones
Nemanja Bjelica
Justin Patton

Leaving these three unprotected:

Cole Aldrich
Jamal Crawford
Taj Gibson

Aldrich is entirely obvious; the Wolves tried to dump his salary last month but were unable to, at least without attaching another asset. He was barely in the rotation last season, and looks unlikely to be more than a fifth big again this season. I still think he’s a helpful player, but is clearly not in Tom Thibodeau’s plans. It’s very unlikely he would get taken in an expansion draft anyway, but if an expansion team does take him...that’s fine.

Crawford was a slightly more difficult choice given the dearth of wing players on the roster, but I didn’t want to sign him in the first place, and if an expansion team wants to draft a 37 year old player in decline, may the gods bless them. I’d be shocked if he gets a look in this process.

Gibson was probably the toughest decision, but again, the Wolves overpaid for him. It strikes me as extremely unlikely an expansion team would take him on at $14M per over the next couple of years. He struck me as unnecessary at the time, and certainly would be so for an expansion team. Since the Wolves just signed him for more, presumably, than any other team was willing to pay, it’s not likely an expansion team would take him thinking they could trade him.

The only other player I seriously considered leaving unprotected was Nemanja Bjelica. He’s been somewhat disappointing over his first two seasons with the Wolves, but he’s also the only remotely “stretchy” four on the roster (unless you count Towns,) is inexpensive this season, and might still have a little upside. He seemed more likely to get taken in this sort of exercise than Gibson, so I kept him on the protected list.

What say you about my choices?