NBA rumors: Mario Hezonja Greece bound

Panathinaikos OPAP announced that the team has reached an agreement with Mario Hezonja for the remainder of the 2020-21 season. The addition comes just a couple of days before the EuroLeague deadline for registering new players to the competition on February 24th.

More on Mario Hezonja Free Agency

Shams Charania: The Memphis Grizzlies are waiving forward Mario Hezonja, sources tell @TheAthleticNBA @Stadium . Multiple teams are expected to express interest after training camp ends.
The Portland Trail Blazers have signed free agent forward Mario Hezonja, it was announced today by president of basketball operations Neil Olshey. Hezonja (heh-ZONE-yuh), 24, holds career averages of 7.3 points (41.7% FG, 32.1% 3-PT, 81.1% FT), 3.0 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 18.9 minutes in 277 games (65 starts) over four seasons with Orlando and New York.
Impending free agent Vince Carter, 42, who announced he will play one more season, would consider the Heat in free agency if Miami is interested, we’re told. He averaged 7.4 points on 42 percent shooting last season. Carter would be among a couple dozen free agent possibilities to fill the Dwyane Wade role. Another name, among others, to keep in mind: Free agent Mario Hezonja.
Over the weekend, Fizdale mentioned the struggle coaching a team loaded with free agents because of the tendency to play for themselves. That’s one thing you can’t accuse Hezonja of doing. “I don’t give a s–t that I’m a free agent,’’ Hezonja told The Post. “I’m trying to help these guys as well. I don’t give a s–t about myself. I’ll be fine. Trust me. I’ll be fine. With my basketball skill, talent and abilities, I’ll always be fine. I just want to help these guys with stuff I’ve been through in my career in both Europe and here.
Hezonja weighed two-year offers from Portland and Sacramento but chose the Knicks’ one-year, $6.5 million package. “I had many opportunities when we met with playoff teams,’’ Hezonja said. “This was my choice. I stand by it strongly. I chose David Fizdale, [team president] Steve Mills and Scott Perry was already there. I know Steve wanted me on draft night [in 2015]. Even through a bad season, I stand strongly and firmly with it. That’s how you figure out how who is who. Through bad and worse, you figure out what kind of relationship we have. And we stand together.’’
Josh Robbins: Mario Hezonja said he also received interest from the Thunder, Lakers and Trail Blazers in free agency. Rob Hennigan, who was the Magic GM who drafted Hezonja, now works for the Thunder.
Mike Vorkunov: Mario Hezonja says he chose the Knicks over interest from the Lakers, Thunder, and the Blazers. He liked the vibe from NYK -- Skyped pre-draft with Steve Mills, knew Fizdale from that process, Perry drafted him. Mills says he tried trading w/ Perry for him when he was in Orlando.

http://twitter.com/JoshuaBRobbins/status/1016806012311953408
Adrian Wojnarowski: For Hezonja and KNICKS, it's a one-year, $6.5M deal, sources tell ESPN. He'll have a real opportunity to create some traction for his career with the Knicks.
Albert Nahmad: Knicks will use most of the NT-MLE ($8.6M) to sign Mario Hezonja at 1-year, $6.5M, which will hard-cap them at the apron ($129.7M). New York currently has a $109M payroll to 15 players, including Kevin Knox but excluding Mitchell Robinson.
Mario Hezonja: Start spreading the news...I want to be a part of it, New York,New York! Very excited to be joining the Knicks and play for coach Fizdale! A dream come true!! #betterhairdaysareahead

https://twitter.com/mariohezonja/status/1013595078999195648
While sources say Mavs continue to consider Curry, DBcom has been told the Mavs have "not ruled out'' free-agent Hezonja, who was the Magic's 2015 first-round pick, fifth overall. (That's not necessarily meant as a locked-in prediction, of course.) He hasn't blossomed in the way they'd hoped, and this season his option wasn't picked up, Orlando passing on having him under team control for another season at the highly-reasonable price of $6.9 million.
Ian Begley: Shortly before midnight, several league execs were under the impression that Mario Hezonja saw the Knicks as his top choice in free agency. It will be interesting to see if a longer contract offer from another suitor impacts negotiations here.
Ian Begley: As free agency opens, there is mutual interest between Mario Hezonja and the Knicks, sources say. Hezonja has multiple suitors and the Knicks are looking to offer short-term contracts to maintain cap space for 2019. Sacramento also has interest in Hezonja.
Michael Scotto: The New York Knicks have interest in unrestricted free agent Mario Hezonja, league sources told The Athletic. Knicks general manager Scott Perry was in Orlando when the Magic selected Hezonja fifth overall in 2015.
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.”
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.
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.
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