Mario Hezonja, who is playing some of the best basketball of his NBA career as of late, will be an unrestricted free agent this summer, and he’s beginning to look like an intriguing target. According to various reports, the Kings are one team that’s expected to have interest in Hezonja when he reaches the open market.
Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee recently wrote that Hezonja has “fans in Sacramento’s front office” and figures to be a target for the Kings this offseason. Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders has expressed a similar sentiment, tweeting today that the club is a “real and viable threat” to land Hezonja. Kyler later tweeted that he continues to hear the Kings “have eyes” for the third-year forward, who was linked to Sacramento in trade rumors last October.
Hezonja, the fifth overall pick in the 2015 draft, struggled during his first two seasons in Orlando, but has looked better this year, particularly in recent weeks. For the season, the 23-year-old is averaging 9.1 PPG and 3.4 RPG with a shooting line of .463/.348/.826. In his last 15 games, Hezonja has boosted those averages to 14.7 PPG and 4.3 RPG on .473/.412/.868 shooting.
It remains unclear what sort of contract Hezonja will land in free agency. Cap space won’t be plentiful around the NBA, and the Croatian’s career track record will make teams wary of investing significant money. But he’s also just 23 years old, and if he continues to show signs of putting it all together, there should be teams willing to aggressively roll the dice on him.
Orlando’s level of interest in re-signing Hezonja hasn’t been reported, but if the forward finishes the season strong, bringing him back will be tricky for the Magic. Because the team turned down the fourth-year option on Hezonja’s rookie contract last fall, he’ll be an unrestricted free agent, and Orlando won’t be able to offer a starting salary of more than $5,167,231, the amount of that declined option.