Free-agent forward Mario Hezonja has agreed to a one-year, $6.5 million deal with the New York Knicks, league sources told ESPN.
The Knicks are hopeful that Hezonja, 23, will fulfill the potential to become the complete player that made him the fifth overall pick by the Magic in the 2015 NBA draft.
On the pro side of things, Hezonja showed some real signs of turning his career around after Orlando embarsssingly turned down his fourth year team option. I was interested in seeing him sign with the Knicks, so in a vaccuum, it’s a great risk on a still young player that was showing real signs of improvement. The Knicks might be able to flip him for a draft pick.
On the con side of things, since it was only a one year deal, the Knicks did not gain his Bird rights, so if he performs well, they would have to use their cap space to sign him. Plus, his cap hold will be relatively high.
So this is probably a relatively unimportant signing, but, hey, at least they didn’t give him a player option for year two! Baby steps!
19 replies on “ESPN.com: Sources: Mario Hezonja agrees with Knicks on one-year, $6.5M deal”
it’s been a fun few years – but, courtney must go…
here’s hoping we can watch some young players trying to get it together for a couple of years…
as always, Knicks steal the day’s basketball news with their big moves…
this is very much reminiscent of the derrick williams and afflalo’s signing… only we improved a bit by not giving up a player option…
in a vacuum it’s not gonna end up mattering much either way… but trying to piece this together with the overall thinking of the organization and i can’t help but feel like it’s ‘wrong track’ type of thinking…
It is a little bit like that, except Williams and Afflalo ate up a lot more cap, which the old hippie guy could have used to take on a bad contract and poach an asset or two. So that was a little bit more irritating. In this situation the Knicks are already capped out, and they’re using part of the MLE to sign Hezonja. There was not a whole lot else they could have done with that MLE, other than try to convince somebody else to take a 1+1 deal or something. This is really sort of a nothing deal for the Knicks, unless you believe maybe they’ll be able to flip Hezonja at the deadline for something of long-term use.
I am reposting this from the previous thread. Mario Hezonja in 30 games as a twenty-two year old starter last season:
I like it as a move in a vacuum. No downside, it doesn’t cost us space like the afflalo deal and Hezonja is also 23 – right in line with our other guys.
A team option for year 2 would have been good. I’m still desperately hoping the Robinson one-year thing from yesterday is false. But if not we’ll end up with two young upside guys expiring and having to choose between them and our much-vaunted mad FA slot. Could definitely be annoying!
I like Hezonja and I like the move, but will we be able to give a contract with a team option someday?
Obviously, since Hezonja is looking to build up value going into next offseason (when more teams will have money to spend, not to mention the cap goes up, like, $8 million), he would not have been willing to sign a 1+1 deal, but the thing that sort of gets me about this deal is that since he would have just signed the same deal with Portland had he not signed with the Knicks (1/$6.5 million), what would have been the real longterm downside for the Knicks if they had just not signed him?
They would have had pretty much the same opportunity to sign him next season as they have now, as he is clearly looking at this deal as a “pillow” contract to build up value to get a longterm, bigger deal. So any team that signed him would explicitly not have an advantage of re-signing him, so the only upside is the possibility of him netting you a draft pick if you trade him during the season. That’s not nothing, but it’s also not a whole lot of something either.
But I seriously do like Hezonja as a player, so I’ll root for him to play well enough this year that they’d want to spend cap space on him next season either way. 🙂
We also can’t really trade him unless he literally goes off enough to be a major playoff contributor. Anyone acquiring him gets no bird-rights advantage, they’ll just be in the same position as us. So it’s conpletely only a rental.
Well, the likelihood of resigning him is much greater if he is already in your team. Look at Paul George, who was supposedly decided to go to the Lakers. After a year in the Thunder, he decides to resign there… and it is not a great situation (although not terribly bad, 4th in the west, likely to stay more or less the same for the next couple of years).
And I think a FA might accept a 1+1 deal if you add some money, or if you partially guarantee part of the money of the 2nd year (which is also interesting, because the contract becomes valuable to save the cap of some other team). Glenn Robinson III has signed a 1+1 deal with the Pistons. I dont know, maybe certain FAs wont ever sign a deal like that, but I wonder if they tried.
The Thunder had his Bird Rights, though. If they didn’t, he would not be signing there (like, literally, they could not have afforded to re-sign him). If a team gets his Bird Rights, then yes, there will always be the chance of getting the player the resign there.
True, but there have been some pure rentals who netted first round picks in recent years. But yes, he would have to play very well for that to be a possibility, which is why, again, I don’t think there’s a whole ton of upside to this deal.
Well, the likelihood of resigning him is much greater if he is already in your team. Look at Paul George, who was supposedly decided to go to the Lakers.
this is really a nothing deal. no upside no downside. the likelihood of resigning someone to the max is greater if they’re on your team but that doesn’t really apply to a player without bird rights who won’t get the max.
and anyone who thinks he is a good defender because his defensive win shares look solid is in for a surprise. his upside is shooting much better and becoming a decent offensive player, which does seem possible. his trademark team-defense move is the sad headshake generator.
It’s definitely not in the category of the DW or afflalo deals when the strategy was to become a premium free surety.
You can’t really compare this deal to those. While there were many who felt that the team should have used the cap space to rent bad contracts in exchange for assets, Phil was not in the tank mindset at the time so that point was moot. As far as the merits of the deals in the context of the ill-conceived non-tank mode, the major outcry about those deals at the time was the player option (which neither player exercised.) Then there was the quality of players themselves. Many (including me) thought that DWill was a Bargnani-level bust and that Afflalo was at best overrated and not worth the salary and at worst washed up, so they weren’t worth anything above the minimum, much less a two-year mid-level deal with a player option. The fear was that they would most likely both suck and opt in, or in the unlikely situation that they (actually DWill) figured it out and vastly outperformed his contract, they would opt out and become vastly more expensive. As it turned out, DWill played well enough to opt out, although he got virtually the same deal in his next contract, and Afflalo opted out due to being a persona non grata who got a slightly better deal that grossly overpaid him.
The Hezonja signing is nothing like that because both the context and the terms of the deal are vastly different, as is the level of hubris of management and the makeup of the team. This is simply a flier on a young player with a use-it-or-lose-it exception and a smart decision to not extend the deal when cap space might be used more strategically. It’s a nothing deal at worst, and a “first dibs on building a relationship with a newly promising player that might be a good investment at the right price going forward” deal at best.
The other thing I really like about this deal is that it’s in the context of having a coach with a strong (although not necessarily well-deserved) reputation for developing young players. One of the most frustrating aspects of the last zillion years is how poorly the Knicks have done in this regard. It’s kinda refreshing to consider that Fizdale is at least theoretically a “Brad Stevens-like” coach in regard to the team we have right now. Ditching Lee, benching Lance, banishing Noah, and losing O’Quinn would make the oldest rotation player on the team Tim Hardaway Jr. at 26, with no pressure to play vets to win meaningless games. And Lee and Lance are consummate pros who even if they remain will be a good influence on the young guys.
Hezonja is pretty terrible on defense. Only reason he has good defensive stats is probably because of his high steal count.
He seems to really like New York/Fizdale so if we whiff on the Kyrie/Kawhi plan then hopefully we can sign him to manageable contract if he plays well.
Assuming we trade Lee for players we can waive, the rotation might look something like:
Starters: Kanter, Knox, Hezonja, TH2, Frank
Bench: Kornet, Robinson, Lance, Dotson, Burke
Also in mix: Baker, Mudiay
Non-rotation: Noah, Trier, Hicks
Assuming KP comes back mid-season (and I think he will) I would love to see a rotation of something like this:
Starters: KP, Kanter, Hezonja, TH2, Frank
Bench: Robinson, Knox, Lance, Dotson, Burke
Also in mix: Kornet, Baker, Mudiay
Non-rotation: Noah, Trier, Hicks
That’s an athletic young team with upside, the likes of which we haven’t seen since the Amare signing. I really like the second unit’s potential. You could even put Baker in and move Dot to the 3 and Lance or Knox to the 4. We may not win many games, but I’m down with the youth movement!
It seems like Fizdale likes athletic guys than can score the ball, and feels he can turn them into tough defenders.
Herzonja looks like a good pickup. As was stated, low downside with re-signing possibilities going forward. And maybe make knox up his game to get minutes.
Why? You make this claim but do not provide evidence to support it.
Dws is pretty much not at all representative of actual defensive contribution. It’s a measure of the teams defense more than anything. O sure Hezonja ranked poorly on all the DPM stats which do a much better job measuring defense (still flawed tho) but I need to recheck that