Hezonja will become an unrestricted free agent in July. Hezonja has said repeatedly he loves living in Orlando, and the Magic can re-sign him over the summer. At the same time, however, Hezonja now is essentially auditioning for other teams, trying to prove he deserves a free-agent contract in a market in which few teams will have significant cap space available.
The Orlando Magic have declined the fourth-year option on forward Mario Hezonja, the fifth overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft, league sources told ESPN. Hezonja, 22, will become an unrestricted free agent in July. The option would've guaranteed Hezonja $5.2 million in the 2018-19 season.
The decision to allow Hezonja to become a free agent next summer has a mutual benefit for a new front office who didn't draft him, and a player and agent who are eager for a change of scenery and a chance to prove that Hezonja can justify the interest that exists for him elsewhere. The option still exists for Hezonja to re-sign with Orlando. Orlando president Jeff Weltman has been careful about committing future money to the underachieving roster that he inherited, resisting rookie contract extensions for Elfrid Payton and Aaron Gordon. He has wanted to evaluate the roster this season, and make decisions later on the future of the group.
September 24, 2021 | 7:53 pm EDT Update
Sean Cunningham: Andrew Wiggins request for religious exemption from COVID-19 vaccination denied by the NBA. League statement below. pic.twitter.com/kXFGXiS8hy
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Avery Bradley is coming off a couple of down seasons but was one of the league’s stingiest individual defenders earlier in his career, and he’s only 30. He’s been given the impression, per a source, that he will have a real chance to make the roster and, with Thompson out early in the season, there’s a clear path to playing time if he rediscovers his old form, which would catapult him back onto the market next summer.