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.
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“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.
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As the Jazz roster languishes in the very beginning of construction for next season, Sefolosha probably holds the most wide-ranging of situations. Depending on moves made over the summer, one can make a reasonable argument for him being Utah’s starting power forward when training camp starts. There’s a reasonable scenario where Sefolosha isn’t brought back at all.
“There’s definitely a little uncertainty,” Sefolosha said. “Nothing is written in stone. Obviously, the injury (Sefolosha missed the second half of the season after knee surgery following an MCL injury) is something that I couldn’t control. But I would love to come back and have a full season. Utah is a fit for me.”
Sources tell The Tribune that the Jazz value Sefolosha’s locker room presence and leadership off the floor. Indeed, Sefolosha was able to make an instant impact on the likes of Donovan Mitchell and Royce O’Neale.