The next free agent who could be in the mix for the New York Knicks is Mario Hezonja, who spent the first three years of his NBA career with the Orlando Magic.
Marc Berman reported that New York has even made an offer to the 23-year-old (via New York Post):
“The Knicks have an offer on the table for 6-foot-8 Orlando combo forward Mario Hezonja for a portion of the $8.6 million, mid-level exception on a one-year deal, according to an NBA source. The sharpshooting Hezonja was seeking a multi-year deal.”
Knicks general manager Scott Perry was the vice president of basketball operations for the Magic when Orlando drafted Hezonja fifth overall in the 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.
ESPN’s Ian Begley described interest between Hezonja and New York as “mutual” in a recent report. But he also mentioned that there are other teams that covet the swingman.
Begley listed the Sacramento Kings as another potential destination for Hezonja. The franchise has long been interested, dating back to the 2015 pre-draft process.
The Kings and Magic reportedly discussed a potential trade for Hezonja in October 2017 too. David Pick wrote about the connection between the free agent and Sacramento assistant general manager Peja Stojakovic (via Bleacher Report):
“Hezonja has been introduced to former NBA marksman Peja Stojakovic, who will serve as Hezonja’s acting NBA mentor. But when approached with the possibility of nurturing Hezonja, Stojakovic initially declined … Stojakovic traveled to Barcelona multiple times to see Hezonja and eventually changed his view.”
If all it takes for the Kings to outbid the Knicks is a multi-year contract, it seems likely that the Sacramento would use their cap space to offer a bigger deal than what New York currently has on the table.