The Orlando Magic are off to a hot start this year, though their former lottery pick Mario Hezonja no longer has a clear role with the team.
He is still in the rotation for the Magic and the 6-foot-8 wing has even played minutes at power forward this year. The organization must decide whether or not they plan to extend his contract until next season by 11:59 p.m. – though one option is to instead trade the 22-year-old player.
Michael Scotto reports that while trade talks have stalled recently, the front office in Sacramento has long been interested in Hezonja (via Basketball Insiders):
“The Sacramento Kings and Magic discussed a swap of Malachi Richardson and a second-round pick for Hezonja but trade talks stalled recently, league sources told Basketball Insiders. Vlade Divac and Peja Stojakovic have kept tabs on Hezonja since the 2015 draft process. Sacramento nearly selected Hezonja, but Orlando selected him the pick before. Instead, Sacramento chose Willie Cauley-Stein with the sixth pick in that draft.”
Hezonja, drafted with the No. 5 overall pick just two seasons ago, has a career-low usage rate this season. His 13 minutes per game is the lowest it has been during his NBA career as well.
He may still be a viable three-point shooter, however, as he has made 50 percent of his shots from long range so far this season. Plus, his points and rebounds per 36 minutes are currently at a career-high despite a small sample size to start the year.
Perhaps a change of scenery is exactly what the Croatian-born player needs at this point his career. Other front offices with ties to Hezonja include the New York Knicks and Oklahoma City Thunder.
Scott Perry, formerly the vice president of basketball operations for the Magic, is currently the general manager for the Knicks. Rob Hennigan, formerly the general manager for the Magic, is the assistant general manager for the Thunder.
Perry and Hennigan both interviewed Hezonja in Spain before they decided to select him in 2015.
Harold Ellis, once the director of pro scouting in Orlando, is now the head of player personnel for New York. Michael Arcieri, who was the director of basketball administration for the Magic, is the director of basketball strategy for the Knicks.
Adrian Griffin, an assistant coach for Oklahoma City, was one of the assistants in Orlando when Hezonja was a rookie. If the asking price is low, expect the Thunder and Knicks to at least make a call about the young player.