New Blazers teammates Jusuf Nurkic, Mario Hezonja were neighbors growing up
Jusuf Nurkic and Mario Hezonja were neighbors growing up, and now they’re teammates on the Portland Trail Blazers.
Hezonja signed a two-year, $3.66 million contract with the Blazers on Wednesday. He played with the New York Knicks this past season after spending the first three years of his NBA career with the Orlando Magic.
Hezonja on his relationship with Blazers center Jusuf Nurkic: "My brother; nothing more to say.'' The two grew up "literally door-to-door" as neighbors and that Nurkic is tight with Hezonja's father. "Probably closer to my father than I am.''
— Jason Quick (@jwquick) July 3, 2019
With the Knicks, Hezonja averaged 8.8 points, 4.1 rebounds and 1.5 assists while shooting 41.2 percent from the field, 27.6 percent from beyond the arc and 76.3 percent from beyond the arc. The 24-year-old has failed to live up to the hype of being the fifth overall pick in the 2015 Draft. The Blazers are hoping Hezonja can have success in Portland since he’ll be next to Nurkic and playing for a contender.
Hezonja set NBA Twitter on fire this past season with two big plays. He dunked on Milwaukee Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo and then stepped over The Greek Freak. Mario also blocked Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James at the buzzer at Madison Square Garden. Needless to say, the Blazers are getting a player who doesn’t lack confidence.
Hezonja has career averages of 7.3 points, 3.0 rebounds and 1.3 assists in 277 games. The signing of Hezonja is the fourth move the franchise has made this offseason. They traded Evan Turner to the Atlanta Hawks for Kent Bazemore, agreed to a deal to bring back Rodney Hood and reportedly acquired Hassan Whiteside from the Miami Heat in exchange for Meyers Leonard.