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Magic already attempted to trade away Mario Hezonja during the summer

Mario Hezonja

Orlando Magic guard Mario Hezonja has had an underwhelming start to his NBA career. In more than two seasons, he could only compile averages of 6.3 points, 2.5 rebounds, and 1.2 assists per game. He has also mostly failed to crack the regular rotation of the team.

Obviously, such production is far from what the front office had in mind when they drafted him fifth overall in the 2015 draft – ahead of guys like Devin Booker, Myles Turner, and Willie Cauley-Stein, among other rising young players. Not that it was the Magic’s fault, of course. Hezonja was quite promising while playing in the Euroleague, where he showcased athleticism and outside shooting.

Nevertheless, the slow development was among the reasons why he became an unflattering rarity in the league. The Magic’s new general manager, Jeff Weltman, who only joined the franchise in May of 2017, declined the fourth-year option on Hezonja for the 2018-19 season, making the 22-year-old a free agent come July this year. He was supposed to make $5.2 million had it got picked up.

It’s almost unheard of for teams to make such decisions on high draft picks under a rookie contract, but considering the trajectory of play, it’s pretty reasonable. Also, it has now been revealed by Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel that the Magic was already trying to find any trade partners for Hezonja during the summer.

Now that the team only has a few months left from their 6-foot-8 swingman — since his chances of re-signing are slim — the Magic are hoping that he could contribute the best way he can.

Hezonja is averaging 17 points, six rebounds, and 2.4 steals per game as a starter in his last five contests, but it’s unlikely he keeps it up once Nikola Vucevic returns from injury after the All-Star break along with power forward Aaron Gordon.