Report: Orlando will not pick up fourth year option on Mario Hezonja

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Earlier today, the No. 3 pick in the 2015 NBA Draft, Jahlil Okafor, did not have the fourth year of his rookie deal picked up by the Sixers.

Now, the No. 5 pick in that draft,  Mario Hezonja, has had the same thing happen with the Orlando Magic. Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN broke the news.

The Orlando Magic have declined the fourth-year option on forward Mario Hezonja, the fifth overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft, league sources told ESPN…

The Magic had discussed several trade scenarios in the past several months, including conversations with the Sacramento Kings over the weekend, but no deal materialized, league sources said.

The decision to allow Hezonja to become a free agent next summer has a mutual benefit for a new front office who didn’t draft him, and a player and agent who are eager for a change of scenery and a chance to prove that Hezonja can justify the interest that exists for him elsewhere.

Hezonja will be an unrestricted free agent next summer. It is possible a trade for him is found still, or the sides could agree to a buyout.

Hezonja has size and athleticism, and as a rookie looked like a guy who could develop into an elite level shooter in the NBA. However, none of that happened in Orlando, his development flattened out or regressed. On a Magic team with a lot of ill-fitting talent, he never stood out and took the steps forward to demand playing time with his performance. While he has shown flashes of improvement this season (shooting 62.5 percent from three), coach Frank Vogel doesn’t seem to have bought fully in and he’s getting limited minutes off the bench. Hezonja and his agent likely think things will be different in a new setting.

Hezonja is not going to make a lot of money as a free agent next summer, but he could land in a situation where his game might get the chance to blossom. Some team likely will take a low-risk gamble on him.