The Magic are exploring the trade market for Mario Hezonja with the deadline looming on his 2018/19 option, reports Michael Scotto of Basketball Insiders (Twitter link). Orlando will have to decide today whether or not to exercise Hezonja’s fourth-year option for next season, which has a cap charge of about $5.17MM.
According to Scotto (via Twitter), the Kings were one club that spoke to the Magic about Hezonja. The two teams discussed the possibility of a deal that would send Hezonja to Sacramento in exchange for Malachi Richardson and a second-round pick. However, those trade talks recently stalled, Scotto reports.
Like Hezonja, Richardson has yet to make much of an impact in the NBA, but Sacramento’s second-year shooting guard is a little younger and cheaper than Orlando’s third-year sharpshooter. The Kings have already decided to pick up Richardson’s 2018/19 option, according to Tony Jones of The Salt Lake City Tribune (Twitter link). That option will count against the cap for just $1.57MM.
At $5.17MM, Hezonja’s 2018/19 option is a tougher call. The Croatian forward was the fifth overall pick in 2015, but has failed to develop as the Magic hoped, and is playing a career-low 13.0 MPG in the early part of this season. Orlando’s new management group, led by Jeff Weltman and John Hammond, didn’t draft Hezonja, so they may be less willing to roll the dice on him for one more year than the old regime would have been.