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Rumors of Mario Hezonja to the Kings are greatly exaggerated

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It’s never too early to start thinking about free agency

NBA: Orlando Magic at Cleveland Cavaliers Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

As Sacramento Kings fans we’re stuck in a cycle of perpetually looking at next summer. Who can the Kings draft that will fix everything? Who can the Kings lure in free agency to fix everything? Looking ahead is often preferable to looking at the present. In that spirit, I’m pleased to tell you that we have free agency rumors surrounding the Kings and Mario Hezonja.

The story made the rounds on social media Monday after a tweet from Sportando.

Sportando is somewhat hit-or-miss as a source of information, but can have valuable insights on international players. Because of this, it may seem like good intel. A few other “insiders” then reported “hearing” similar things, but they seem mostly to be piling on the Sportando report in attempts to seem informed. But Sportando lists their source as this Q&A from The Bee’s Jason Jones.

When asked who the Kings might target in free agency, Jones wrote:

The Kings need size on the perimeter, and a target is likely to be Mario Henzonja.

The 6-foot-8 swingman was the fifth overall pick in the 2015 NBA draft, but Orlando declined to pick up his option for next season back in October. Hezonja is averaging 9.1 points, 3.4 rebounds and 1.1 assists.

The scoring and rebounds are career highs, but not the kind of return a team would expect from a top-five pick. Orlando’s current front office did not draft Hezonja.

He’s the kind of player the Kings could land on a short-term deal and figures to be a high priority. He has fans in Sacramento’s front office, and is still only 23. He’s played better lately and is coming off a solid February where he averaged 15.5 points and connected on 40.4 percent of his 3-pointers.

And Jones is absolutely correct with everything he says here. Hezonja makes perfect sense for the Kings. He’s young enough to fit the roster’s timeline. He plays a position of need for the Kings. And we know the Kings loved Hezonja all the way back to when he was drafted. Orlando made a mistake not picking up Hezonja’s option this season, and he’ll be a rare unrestricted free agent who is just starting to come into his own. The Kings should absolutely kick the tires on him this summer.

Unfortunately, when we trace this rumor back to it’s source, we see that it’s little more than informed speculation. It makes sense, but this isn’t anything new that’s happened. Mario makes sense for the Kings, but for now we should take this rumor for what it is. It’s just speculation.