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How the Wizards could get two shots at signing Kevin Durant

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How the Wizards could get two shots at signing Kevin Durant

NBA free agency begins today, but the player most coveted by Wizards fans won't hit the market until this time next year. There's a chance he'll be available the summer after that, too. 

Washington native Kevin Durant is entering the final season of his contract with the Oklahoma City Thunder, making him a free agent in 2016. That's also when the NBA's new TV deal will drive up the salary cap dramatically -- from roughly $67 million in 2015-16 to $90 million in 2016-17. 

Under the current CBA, max contracts are set at a fixed percentage of the salary cap in the year the deal was signed. So if Durant agreed to a multi-year max contract next summer, his base salary would be 30 percent of the 2016-17 cap (~$90 million) in the first season and eligible for incremental raises in each subsequent season of the deal. 

This is where OKC seems to have the advantage: They hold Durant's Bird Rights, so they're able to offer him a max base salary with a 7.5 percent annual increase for up to five years. Other teams can only offer a max with a 4.5 percent annual increase for up to four years. 

But what if a five-year max contract with the Thunder in 2016 wasn't actually Durant's most lucrative option?

Grantland's Zach Lowe laid out a compelling case against it

Max percentage [of the salary cap] increases from 30 percent to 35 percent once a player logs 10 years in the league ... Those little [CBA] quirks rewarding veteran players were never supposed to mean this much.

We’re a year early, but it’s possible no player in league history will have ever had as much incentive to sign a one-year deal as Kevin Durant next summer. Durant is three years younger than [LeMarcus] Aldridge, and as he hits free agency, he’ll have completed nine seasons — one short of the magic number required to snag that juicy 35 percent max. Durant could sign a one-year deal, re-enter free agency when the cap leaps to $108 million in the summer of 2017, and ink a mega-max at that 35 percent level. Durant would rake in about $40 million more going that route than by signing a long-term contract deal next summer.

Short-term deals carry risk, of course, and Durant has undergone three separate foot surgeries in the last eight months. 

Very interesting stuff, folks. Especially for the Wizards. 

Durant could re-sign with Oklahoma City in 2016 for one season or check out a new situation for one season. Either way he would become a free agent again in 2017, when he's eligible to make 35 percent of the $108 million cap. 

Say the former MVP wanted to come home, but was hesitant about the demands and expectations of old acquaintances. He'd have a full season in Washington to consider making a long term commitment.

Even if he's set on staying put, taking a five-year max with the Thunder in 2016 doesn't make as much financial sense as re-upping for one year before inking a multi-year max extension in 2017. This is the same logic behind LeBron James not signing long-term contracts with the Cavaliers. 

Perhaps serious health reservations could induce Durant to choose job security over an extra $40 million. 

If not, the Wizards could get two chances to lure the former MVP. 

MORE WIZARDS: Wizards' playoff foes active on Day 1 of NBA free agency

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2017-18 Wizards roster review: Tim Frazier

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2017-18 Wizards roster review: Tim Frazier

To wrap up the 2017-18 season, we are looking at each player on the Wizards' roster. Today, we evaluate Tim Frazier's season...

Player: Tim Frazier

Position: Point guard

Age: 27

2017-18 salary: $2 million

2017-18 stats: 59 G, 14.2 mpg, 3.0 ppg, 1.9 rpg, 3.3 apg, 0.8 spg, 0.1 bpg, 39.5 FG%, 30.4 3P%, 76.7 FT%, 44.5 eFG%, 105 ORtg, 107 DRtg

Best game: 1/27 at Hawks - 4 points, 14 assists, 3 rebounds, 2 steals, 2 blocks, 2-for-5 FG

Season review: The Wizards tabbed Tim Frazier to be their backup point guard nearly a year ago when they sent a second round pick to the New Orleans Pelicans on the eve of draft night. They viewed Frazier as the solution to their years-long search for a capable backup behind John Wall. Frazier had thrived as a replacement starter in New Orleans and the Wizards saw him as worth a draft pick, even though he had just one year left on his contract.

Frazier began the season as the primary backup point guard, but ultimately lost the job to Tomas Satoransky once Wall went out with a left knee injury. Frazier became the starter and Satoransky the backup, but through two weeks Satoransky outplayed him and became No. 2 on the depth chart once Wall returned. Then, when Wall went down for months late in the season, Satoransky started and Frazier backed him up.

Frazier never found consistency as he moved back and forth between roles. His minutes, points and assists averages were all career-lows.

The Wizards added competition to their roster for Frazier and Satoransky midseason, first by signing Ramon Sessions in March and then adding Ty Lawson just before the playoffs began. That led to Frazier being inactive for four of the Wizards' six postseason games.

All in all, it was a frustrating year for Frazier. He even had to deal with a broken nose and surgery to repair it after getting inadvertently kneed in the face by Bobby Portis in a game against the Bulls in February.

Frazier has been part of small group of Wizards players continuing to work out at the team facility this summer. He has been there along with Wall, Ian Mahinmi and Jason Smith. That said, it does seem likely Frazier returns given how the Wizards used him this season. He was completely out of the rotation for extended periods of time.

Helping his cause in that regard is that the Wizards have his Bird rights, meaning they can re-sign him while going above the salary cap. They currently have five open roster spots and not much money to spend. Frazier could represent a cheap option and help them fill out their roster.

Potential to improve: Shooting, on-ball defense, consistency

More player season reviews:

John Wall, PG

Bradley Beal, SG

Otto Porter, SF

Markieff Morris, PF

Marcin Gortat, C

Kelly Oubre, Jr., SF

Tomas Satoransky, PG

Ian Mahinmi, C

Ty Lawson, PG

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Wizards Tipoff podcast: Markieff Morris goes 1-on-1; no All-NBA votes for Beal?

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Wizards Tipoff podcast: Markieff Morris goes 1-on-1; no All-NBA votes for Beal?

On the latest episode of the Wizards Tipoff podcast presented by Greenberg and Bederman, Chris Miller caught up with Wizards power forward Markieff Morris. Morris looked back on the 2017-18 season and gave his side on what needs to be fixed.

Chris and Chase Hughes also had a heated debate about Bradley Beal not receiving any All-NBA votes. Chase is an awards voter and defended his ballot. Chris wasn't having any of it.

They also went into the conference finals and what it would mean if the Rockets beat the Warriors.

You can listen to the episode right here:

You can download the podcast on Apple Podcasts right here and on Google Play. If you like the show please tell your friends!