Report: Mario Hezonja, Blazers Agree to 2-Year Contract After 1 Season on Knicks

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistJuly 1, 2019

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - APRIL 07:   Mario Hezonja #8 of the New York Knicks celebrates in the final minutes of the game against the Washington Wizards at Madison Square Garden on April 07, 2019 in New York City. The New York Knicks defeated the Washington Wizards 113-110.NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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The Portland Trail Blazers agreed to a two-year, veteran's minimum deal with small forward Mario Hezonja, Hezonja's agent, Michael Tellem, confirmed to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN on Sunday.

The second year is a player option, according to Wojnarowski.

Rodney Hood will return to Portland after agreeing to a two-year, $16 million deal, per Wojnarowski. Al-Farouq Aminu is on the move, however, with Wojnarowski reporting he will sign a three-year, $29 million contract with the Orlando Magic.

Hezonja provides some depth to the frontcourt with Aminu's departure imminent.

The 24-year-old averaged 8.8 points and 4.1 rebounds in 58 appearances for the New York Knicks in 2018-19. He also shot 41.2 percent from the field and 27.6 percent from beyond the arc.

Wojnarowski reported in July 2018 the Blazers were one of the teams showing interest in Hezonja before he decided to sign with the Knicks.

The Orlando Magic selected Hezonja fifth overall in the 2015 draft, and their decision to decline his fourth-year option for 2018-19 said everything about how underwhelming his tenure with the team was.

Given his age, it's too early to give up on Hezonja becoming a useful NBA rotation player. The opportunity to play for a postseason contender could also provide him with the added motivation necessary to fulfill his potential.

The Blazers are $29.9 million over the salary cap, per Spotrac, which leaves them with little means to strengthen the roster. Taking a one-year flier on Hezonja is the kind of gamble Portland should be making.


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