Orlando Magic

Orlando Magic make easy decision to decline Mario Hezonja’s option

It was far too obvious, but the Orlando Magic have declined their option on former lottery pick Mario Hezonja.

The Orlando Magic, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, have declined their fourth-year option on Mario Hezonja. Along with Jahlil Okafor, two top-five picks in the 2015 draft have had their contract options for next season declined.

The Magic have been of the surprising stories of the early NBA season, with a 5-2 record heading into Wednesday’s action. But Hezonja, the No. 5 overall pick in that 2015 draft, has been mostly absent from the proceedings. He is 12.8 minutes per game in six games played to this point, with the expected lackluster production (4.5 points and 2.3 rebounds per game).

Orlando pushed Hezonja down their depth chart on the wings during the offseason, signing Jonathan Simmons and bring back Aaron Afflalo. And it’s not as if he played a lot or did much in his first two seasons, as he started just 11 of 144 games and averaged 5.5 rebounds, 2.2 rebounds and 1.2 assists over 16.5 minutes per game.

Former Magic general manager Rob Hennigan made a lot of mistakes during his tenure, as evidenced by the team’s record, but drafting Hezonja fifth overall stands out. One notable player drafted later than Hezonja is Devin Booker, who went 13th overall to the Phoenix Suns and looks a building block for that franchise. Willie Cauley-Stein (sixth overall-Sacramento Kings) and Myles Turner (10th overall-Indiana Pacers) went in the handful of picks after the Magic took their turn with their lottery pick, and they each would surely be contributing much more than Hezonja is.

Hezonja’s fourth-year option was worth just shy of $5.2 million. While that’s relative peanuts in today’s NBA salary picture, further committing to a mistake by Hennigan would have been bad business for Orlando’s new front office regime.

The Magic could re-sign Hezonja next summer. But it’s far more likely they look to trade him before the deadline in February.

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