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How Realistic Is KD-to-D.C.?

Here with a look at one of our favorite fantasies is Mr. Irrelevant contributing writer Bryan Frantz.

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Those of you watching the Redskins’ glorious 41-10 beatdown of the Jacksonville Jaguars last week may have seen Wizards point guard John Wall taking in the game at the same time as a very special guest.

Naturally, seeing reigning NBA MVP Kevin Durant at a Redskins game with the face of D.C. basketball, both decked out in Redskins gear, had some fans rather giddy. Perhaps excited enough to forget about the face of D.C. football getting hurt again?

No, probably not. But while some fans have jumped on the Kirk Cousins bandwagon, Durant is still showing his loyalty for Mr. Griffin.

Regardless, this is not about football. The #KD2DC movement is alive and kicking, and the return of LeBron James to his hometown certainly did nothing to squelch this hysteria. In fact, the rationality of this potentially holy union has been discussed on this site before. Still, this train is only going to gain more momentum as the time for Durant’s decision gets closer.

So while we’re all basking in the glory of the Nats and O’s both clinching divison titles (within an hour of each other!), let’s take a look at the inner workings of the potential homecoming in Chinatown. First, some quick facts:

*Durant, who turns 26 in less than two weeks, is expected to hit free agency in 2016. This puts him in position to sign a new contract right before his age-28 season, meaning he will still be very much in his prime.

*The only players the Wizards have under contract through 2016 are: John Wall, Marcin Gortat, Otto Porter Jr., Martell Webster, Kris Humphries and DeJuan Blair. It’s also assumed that Bradley Beal will be extended, which is something I’m not ready to think about not happening.

*The players listed above (excluding Beal) put the Wizards at about $47.3 million already, more than halfway to the anticipated salary cap of somewhere in the range of $72-77 million.

*On the other hand, OPJ’s deal has a team option for the 2015-16 and 2016-17 seasons, and both Webster and Blair have non-guaranteed deals for the 2016-17 season.

*It’s also not crazy to think Humphries, now on his sixth team in what will soon be 11 seasons, could also be gone by then.

*This means the Wizards could potentially have just Wall, Gortat and Humphries on the roster when Durant hits free agency, without making a single trade.

OK, now let’s get a little closer look as to what could happen:

*Depending on how OPJ develops, either he or Webster will likely have to be traded to make room, both for salary cap purposes and to clear the roster for Durant.

*Let’s assume Humphries, Blair and OPJ are all still with the team, Beal is re-signed for $12.5 million per year (he’s likely due to make $10-15 million, might as well play with averages) and Webster is gone. That puts the Wizards at basically $54 million in salary.

*If Durant gets the max contract, which he undoubtedly will be offered but could take less for the good of the team (see: Miami Heat, 2010), he’ll likely receive about $22 million. If these numbers pan out, the Wizards are basically at the salary cap already, with just seven players on the roster.

While this does not leave a lot of wiggle room, it’s also not nearly as bad as it sounds. Say the Wizards trade Humphries for a pair of cheap bench contributors and a bit of cap space. Just like that, Washington is up to eight players with a little money to play around with. It’s not crazy to think Beal and Durant would each give up a million or so for the sake of improving the roster; there’s another quality veteran (think Ray Allen for the Heat or Derek Fisher for the Thunder).
All of this is also assuming the Wizards will absolutely refuse to go into the luxury tax.

Now, I don’t know what Ted Leonsis and the Wizards’ front office thinks on all this. That said, I’d be surprised if they weren’t willing to pay a bit of luxury tax to become immediate title favorites, especially considering the MASSIVE amount of jersey and merchandise sales that would inevitably follow with a signing of this magnitude.

Not to be the guy that adds fuel to the way-too-early-hype fire, but it’s a very realistic possibility.

C’mon Durant, let’s get #KD2DC.

D.C. sports fan and digital media guy that's been doing this since 2004. Once threw a football further than Chris Cooley.

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