With the deadline being today for rookie options to be picked up, reports indicate that the Orlando Magic are looking for potential takers for third year forward Mario Hezonja, the 5th pick of the 2015 NBA Draft.
Hezonja was rumored to be a favorite of Kings GM Vlade Divac during that draft, but went one pick before Sacramento. While Hezonja has failed to live up to the promise of a top-five pick in his first couple seasons, it would seem the Kings still might be interested according to Basketball Insiders Michael Scotto.
Sources: Kings and Magic discussed a swap of Malachi Richardson and a second-round pick for Mario Hezonja, but trade talks stalled recently.— Michael Scotto (@MikeAScotto) October 31, 2017
Hezonja and Kings Vice President Peja Stojakovic also have an existing relationship, with Stojakovic helping guide him through the draft process. From David Pick around the time of the 2015 NBA Draft:
Hezonja has been introduced to former NBA marksman Peja Stojakovic, who will serve as Hezonja's acting NBA mentor. But when approached with the possibility of nurturing Hezonja, Stojakovic initially declined.
"He is cocky. He isn't worth the investment."
Stojakovic traveled to Barcelona multiple times to see Hezonja and eventually changed his view.
"Mario is cocky, but it's a good cocky," Stojakovic said. "He needs that kind of swagger and mental toughness to survive in the NBA. Otherwise, the league would eat him."
The Kings are very short on wings and Hezonja would likely have more opportunity in Sacramento. Malachi Richardson on the other hand, is struggling for playing time with multiple guards ahead of him in Sacramento’s rotation. Right now, Malachi is being forced to play a bit out of position at Small Forward, and that’s when he does get time.
It doesn’t sound like anything’s imminent, but I wouldn’t completely discount Sacramento’s interest here.