Brooklyn definitely has interest in Gordon’s teammate, Mario Hezonja, 23. That’s the kind of neighborhood they’re shopping in. Hezonja hasn’t lived up to his billing as the No. 5 pick in 2015, but the Nets have liked him for some time and are known to do the reclamation-project thing. After acquiring the No. 2 (D’Angelo Russell) and No. 3 (Jahlil Okafor) picks in that same draft, and the No. 8 pick from 2014 (Nik Stauskas), Hezonja could be the latest roll of the dice.
NBC Sports California has confirmed that Sacramento is interested in Hezonja if the money is right. He’s an unrestricted free agent, which will help keep his value lower. He’s also only 23 years old and has ties to Peja Stojakovic. The Magic made their intentions clear with Hezonja. They’re moving in a new direction and he is free to roam about the hoops world.
Hezonja has said repeatedly that he adores Orlando and is open to returning to the Magic. Left unsaid, however, is an obvious reality: He must consider other opportunities, especially if another team offers him a clear path toward consistent playing time.
“It’s almost impossible to know what’s going to happen,” Hezonja said. “It’s a weird situation that is great for me. But we’ll see. I love being here, as you can see. But I really don’t know what’s going to happen.”
Steve Kyler: I continue to hear the Kings have eyes for Mario in free agency. I would imagine there are connections with Vlade and Peja.
Warlando: Mario did say he fells new FO is doing something special. Steve Kyler: Sacramento is a real and viable threat - but I do think the Magic have a chance to keep him especially if the market isn't very robust. Its the bet on yourself scenario - cap should go up in 2019.
Warlando: why is Orlando trying to develop Mario when he’s about to leave in 2 months for another team? Steve Kyler: Keep in mind Mario could opt to stay in Orlando for another season and get full Bird Rights in 2019 - it all depends on how he feels about the situation and how much trust he has in the leadership - signing a 1-year deal gets him Veto rights.
The Kings need size on the perimeter, and a target is likely to be Mario Henzonja. The 6-foot-8 swingman was the fifth overall pick in the 2015 NBA draft, but Orlando declined to pick up his option for next season back in October. Hezonja is averaging 9.1 points, 3.4 rebounds and 1.1 assists.
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 27, 2021 | 7:28 pm EDT Update
CJ McCollum: I think it’s important we don’t lose sight of the fact that 90% of the league is vaccinated. Happy Monday.
Anthony Slater: Klay Thompson on the state of his game: “I can make a lot of jump shots. Pretty good at defensive sliding. My timing is a little off. Reaction time’s not there. That’s being rusty two years. I anticipate in the next four weeks playing 5-on-5 again.” pic.twitter.com/Nk9YDlfyGL