The New York Knicks are reportedly interested in free agent forward Mario Hezonja. While nothing is guaranteed, the interest appears to be mutual.
The New York Knicks are in the midst of a process that will require both patience and discipline. The front office has turned its attention to 2019, which will entail clearing cap space and avoiding the temptation of signing free agents to multi-year contracts in 2018.
New York is also in the midst of a rebuild, however, and will thus attempt to add up-and-coming talent on reasonably priced deals—a challenge of undeniable proportions.
New York has a solid core with Kristaps Porzingis, Frank Ntilikina, Kevin Knox, Tim Hardaway Jr., and Enes Kanter. It also has two promising point guards in Trey Burke and Emmanuel Mudiay, rugged defenders in Ron Baker and Damyean Dotson, and an athletic center in Mitchell Robinson.
According to Michael Scotto of The Athletic, the Knicks share mutual interest with a free agent who could soon be added to the core: Mario Hezonja.
Ian Begley of ESPN New York confirmed the report shortly thereafter:
New York will have competition in the Sacramento Kings, but Hezonja is a realistic target for Scott Perry and the Knicks.
Hezonja, 23, struggled through each of his first two seasons in the NBA. That resulted in the Orlando Magic declining his fourth-year player option, which has enabled him to become an unrestricted free agent in 2018.
In the midst of his contract-year, Hezonja produced what happened to be his best season thus far—and in the process, flashed his untapped potential.
That appears to have piqued New York’s interest, as it’s now exploring the possibility of adding him to its intriguing collection of perimeter talent.
Hezonja finished the 2017-18 season with averages of 9.7 points, 3.7 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 1.1 steals, and 1.2 three-point field goals made per game. He set career highs in points (15.7), rebounds (6.1), steals (1.8), and three-point field goals made (2.0) per 36 minutes, as well as field goal percentage (.442).
Hezonja also set career-best marks in Real Plus-Minus and Win Shares, thus displaying that his individual improvement was of value to his team.
If the New York Knicks hold course, Mario Hezonja could be donning the orange and blue as soon as 2018-19.