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SB Nation Mock Expansion Draft: Los Angeles Lakers protected players

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Who should the Lakers protect if the NBA was adding an expansion team or two this summer?

NBA: Summer League-Portland Trail Blazers at Los Angeles Lakers Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

What if the NBA decided it was time to expand the league this summer? That’s something SB Nation NBA decided it was time to tackle, and all 30 team blogs were asked to create expansion draft rosters. Each team was allowed to protect eight players, with the rest going into the expansion pool.

That’s a fairly easy process for the Los Angeles Lakers. Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, Julius Randle, Brook Lopez, Larry Nance, Jr., Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Jordan Clarkson jump out as easy locks.

That would put Corey Brewer, Luol Deng, Josh Hart, Tyler Ennis, Ivica Zubac and Thomas Bryant on the chopping block. On second glance, there are three tough cuts here for the Lakers, and one that might not be popular.

Zubac is the biggest on-the-fence candidate. There’s reason to believe in some of the upside he has, but after a Las Vegas Summer League performance he self-admittedly struggled in, it’s hard to see who he’d bump out of the Top-8 for the Lakers.

Who do you risk to keep Zubac if you’re the Lakers, though? The only candidate that even seems debatable is Jordan Clarkson, who is set to be in a sixth-man role for Los Angeles going forward.

Maybe there’s a case to be made that Caldwell-Pope is truly only a rental, making him expandable, or that Randle will be too expensive to keep going forward. Both of those arguments are viable, but to (potentially) sacrifice either player just to hold onto the chance to develop Zubac is a bit steep.

It could also sting to see Hart and Bryant go, but ultimately it’s hard to imagine an expansion team (or even two) being very high on them. There’s a fairly good chance they make it to the other side, along with Zubac even. Heck, Deng and Brewer might be the most-likely Lakers to be picked up by an expansion team looking for a veteran wing as opposed to low-end draft prospects.

The Lakers’ treasures are clearly stashed away in the Top-8 of their roster. The players available from the Lakers aren’t very attractive, and it’s hard to imagine that 29 other teams won’t have significantly better offerings than what Los Angeles would put into the expansion pool.

Be sure to check out SB Nation NBA’s entire mock expansion draft right over here!

Protected: Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, Julius Randle, Brook Lopez, Larry Nance, Jr., Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Jordan Clarkson

Available for Draft: Corey Brewer, Luol Deng, Josh Hart, Tyler Ennis, Ivica Zubac, Thomas Bryant