The Orlando Magic will be introducing Mario Hezonja to the franchise’s fan base in the Amway Center press conference room, and it’s going to happen some time this week. It’s just not known at the moment when exactly. That’s due in part to a buyout that needs to be negotiated and finalized between Hezonja and FC Barcelona. According to Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel, that could occur as early as Monday. The Croatian is more than excited to be joining the Orlando Magic and wants to fly across the Atlantic as soon as possible.
So what’s the situation with this buyout?
Arn Tellem, reps Mario Hezonja, is in Barcelona to negotiate a reduced NBA out clause – valued at €2 million.
— David Pick (@IAmDPick) June 17, 2015
The buyout was never a hidden thing. Once Hezonja declared for the NBA Draft, it was common knowledge that it would take 2 million Euros (About $2.2 million) for Mario to be let out of his FC Barcelona contract. Orlando can contribute $625,000 of the team’s own money – which they are doing – and it won’t affect the Magic’s salary cap. The Magic could contribute more than the $625,000, but Josh Robbins points out there are consequences with that.
An NBA team may pay more than $625,000, but any overage would come out of a player’s after-tax salary and would be charged to the team’s salary figure.
So that’s not happening. The good news is that the buyout has been negotiated down from 2 million Euros to 1.5 million Euros (About $1.7 million).
Barcelona, I’m told, reduced the NBA escape clause of Mario Hezonja to €1.5 million. Club wants his Euro rights. — David Pick (@IAmDPick) June 27, 2015
Do the math: $1.7 million minus $625,000 = $1,075,000
So despite agent Arn Tellem’s efforts, Mario himself is going to have to pay the difference left over from what the Magic contribute to the buyout. Hezonja is PAYING around $1 million to come over and play in the NBA. That’s not something to take lightly, and Mario’s passion for wanting to play in the NBA and for the Magic should not be questioned.
The size of the buyout alone lets you know how much FC Barcelona valued and cherished the Croatian’s services. They wanted him to remain one of their players for years to come. It also confirms that the Magic wanted Hezonja badly on their roster if they’re willing to fork over $625k.
It’s a good thing Mario got selected at #5 by the Magic and not out of the top ten. Assuming Mario will get paid 120% of the rookie salary scale as allowed by the CBA – and what the Magic have done with recent Draft picks – Hezonja will be making a pretty sum of money over the life of his rookie contract. Here are my calculations:
So as you can see, Mario will be making about $3.74 million in his ’15-’16 campaign. Before taxes of course. The one million dollars he’ll have to pay to FC Barcelona may sting, but Hezonja will still be getting compensated very nicely. Don’t expect Mario to be officially signed until after the Magic have figured out their free agency plan. Free agency begins July 1st but no one can be signed for a week after that (July 8th). Orlando last year signed Elfrid Payton and Aaron Gordon before Summer League on July 2nd.
Hezonja has been focusing on making the jump to the NBA since he left Croatian team KK Zagreb and joined FC Barcelona’s organization in 2012. Funny enough, the offseason he showed up in Spain was the same one that saw Fran Vazquez exit FC Barcelona for a team closer to home…Unicaja Malaga.
I bring Fran up because it was a decade ago when Orlando made the mistake of selecting Vazquez 11th overall in the 2005 Draft. Fran obviously has never played for Orlando…and never will. Staying home in Spain and having a high profile European playing career was satisfactory enough in his eyes. Mario wants way more than that. Any comparisons between Vazquez and Hezonja need to stop. They’ve played for FC Barcelona. That’s the only common bond they have.
When I say FC Barcelona, people tend to first think about the soccer team. However, their basketball team is one of the most famous outside of the NBA. The ACB is the best domestic league outside of the NBA. FC Barcelona has won dozens of trophies since being created in 1926. Hezonja will be the first to admit his appreciation for all of the growing up and development that occurred over the past 3 years in Barcelona. Mario has learned a lot playing with and against some legendary European players.
For all the great times though, it was very evident that FC Barcelona’s front office and coaching staff were trying their best to lower Mario’s Draft stock. From cutting his minutes once it was known that Mario desired to enter into the 2015 NBA Draft, to not-so-subtlety benching him outright. It was the measures of a European team desperately not wanting to lose a great talent they spent 3 years developing. That type of ‘holding back’ only made Mario’s desire to leave for the NBA even stronger. Barcelona’s loss is now the gain of Rob Hennigan and Scott Skiles.
Hezonja wants to have a long and glorious career in the NBA…and it can happen with a Magic organization looking to turn the corner. Hezonja has the athleticism, the skills, the confidence, and the drive to succeed. Super Mario is coming, Orlando. Get ready.
Yahoo! Sports‘ Adrian Wojnarowski is reporting that the Orlando Magic have declined the 2015-2016 season $4.5 million team option on Ben Gordon. The 6’3″ guard is now an unrestricted free agent, and will most likely be wearing a different franchise’s jersey next season.
The $4.5 million being saved by the Magic will go towards free agency, which begins in July.
Gordon was viewed as ‘toxic’ when he signed for Orlando last summer. His exit from Charlotte was a disaster, and many with an outside opinion scratched their heads in regards to Orlando acquiring what everyone assumed was a troublemaker. That wasn’t at all the case. Gordon proved to be a professional on and off the court, at all times.
The 32-year-old will never be known as a defender, but Ben provided some outstanding offensive minutes off the bench in spurts. Especially early in the ’14-’15 season. Ben was like an energy drink, pouring in points on occasion when the team needed it. It just wasn’t enough to take time from others that were contributing more overall.
Sure there were times when you just shook your head at some of Ben’s shot attempts. Those same crazy shot attempts occasionally dropped though, and were the reason why Orlando had some nifty comebacks this past campaign.
In 56 games off the Magic bench, Ben averaged 6.2 ppg on 43.7 FG% and 36.1 3PT% at around 14 minutes per contest. That’s more than respectable coming from a guy that many people thought was finished in the NBA.
Ben revived his career. His departure from Orlando doesn’t indicate otherwise. The UCONN product has an intriguing decision ahead of him: Find another NBA team that can use his scoring capabilities, or possibly seek a larger monetary offer and play overseas. I think Gordon plays in the Association next season. Heck, maybe even for a playoff team.
Tobias Harris, who will be a restricted free agent July 1st, posted a touching farewell to Ben on Instagram. We wish Ben good luck moving forward. It’s evident Orlando wanted to give Ben’s minutes to the younger guards on the roster.
The Orlando Magic have given out jersey numbers to their 2015 Draft selections. Fifth pick Mario Hezonja will wear jersey #23 (Euro Jordan/LeBron!!!), while 51st choice Tyler Harvey will wear #1. You can purchase a Hezonja jersey right now here. Free shipping too.
— Orlando Magic Dish (@Magic_PRDish) June 26, 2015
Jason Richardson and Johnny Taylor are the only other Magic men to have played a regular season contest for Orlando with the #23. As for Harvey’s #1, well, that list is longer. Anfernee Hardaway, Kiwane Garris, Tracy McGrady, Doug Christie, Trevor Ariza, Maurice Evans, Rafer Alston, Gilbert Arenas, Von Wafer, and Doron Lamb. That’s a fun range from phenomenal to awful.
Barring a trade, or some awful situation in which Hezonja doesn’t play a regular season game with the Magic, Hezonja will be the 3rd Croatian to play for the Orlando franchise. Gordan Giricek and Mario Kasun are the other two.
It’s not known when Orlando’s newest selections will have their introductory press conference at Amway Center. July 1st is an estimate at this instant.
The Magic still need to negotiate Hezonja’s buyout with FC Barcelona. Orlando can contribute a maximum of $625,000. Depending on who you talk to, Mario’s buyout is currently over $2 million. However, there seems to be an understanding that the actual buyout will be less than that. Maybe $1 million. Mario will have to pay the buyout difference if it exceeds the $625k total.
The Orlando Magic have officially named Adrian Griffin, Monte Mathis, Mario Elie, and Conner Henry as assistant coaches. Griffin is the lead assistant. Along with those gentlemen, Scott Skiles has retained Laron Profit and Jay Hernandez as assistant coaches/player development. The Magic coaching staff is considered complete at this instance. Perfect timing with Summer League beginning in 1 week. As is usually the case, no contract details for any of the coaches have been released.
Griffin has spent the last five seasons (2010-2015) as an assistant coach with Chicago. During the summer of 2014, he worked with the USA Basketball Men’s National Team that captured the gold medal at the FIBA World Cup. Prior to joining the Bulls, he served as assistant coach/player development for two seasons (2008-2010) with Milwaukee under Skiles.
Monte Mathis has spent the previous five seasons (2010-2015) as an assistant coach with Dallas and the last four seasons as the Mavericks’ defensive coordinator, after spending one season as player development coach. He’s gotten some fantastic experience under Rick Carlisle. As defensive coordinator, Mathis’ responsibilities included preparing defensive game plans and coordinating scouting reports on upcoming opponents. Prior to that, Mathis served as head video coordinator/scout with Dallas (2006-2010). He also had served as Dallas’ summer league head coach since 2009.
Tyler Harvey’s walk-on college story is pretty phenomenal. From no scholarship offers to becoming the best scorer in the NCAA. It’s remarkable. The Orlando Magic have selected an extremely motivated 21-year-old combo guard. Harvey is going to make Summer League extra intriguing while much of the attention will be on Mario Hezonja, Aaron Gordon, Elfrid Payton, Devyn Marble, and others.
He’s a Los Angeles kid, so he loved the Lakers growing up. That’s okay, he’ll be clawing and fighting to make the Magic’s 15-man regular season roster. It all starts at Summer League. Harvey seems to be influenced by Kobe Bryant and Steph Curry. You could do a lot worse.
Listen below to Harvey’s phone interview as he watched the Draft from the West Coast:
The clock struck midnight at Amway Center, and Orlando Magic General Manager Rob Hennigan spoke for about 15 minutes after selecting Tyler Harvey with the #51 pick. It’s the conclusion to what I’d consider to be an outstanding 2015 Draft.
Hennigan touched on a variety of topics. From loving the city of Barcelona, to stating that #5 pick Mario Hezonja will probably only play 1 or 2 Summer League games once a buyout is completed with FC Barcelona. Tobias Harris and free agency. Janis Timma not participating in Summer League. Roster meshing. Tyler Harvey’s offensive skill set. And a lot more.
Below is the video of the interview:
BOOM! I finally predicted an Orlando Magic pick correctly. Rob Hennigan picked the 6’4″, 181-pounder from Eastern Washington. I’ve already gone in depth in describing the 21-year-old. He’s a lucky lefty and was an offensive machine in college, leading the nation in scoring in fact.
His numbers in his 2014-2015 season were outstanding:
23.1 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 2.6 apg, 1.1 spg, 46.9 FG%, 43.1 3PT%, 85.2 FT%
Harvey’s shooting range is unlimited. Magic GM Rob Hennigan says Harvey will participate in Summer League. That’ll be a treat. He finished his collegiate career as the second-leading scorer in school history. Harvey was a two-time All-Big Sky First Team selection and an AP All-American Honorable Mention in 2014-15. If Harvey shoots well in July, I give him a decent chance at making the regular season roster.
We’ll see who else Orlando brings in to fill out their 2 Summer League teams for July.
Any worries about Mario Hezonja not joining the Orlando Magic for the 2015-2016 season were immediately extinguished as the extremely happy Croatian communicated via phone from Barcelona. It was after 3 a.m. local time in Spain and yet Hezonja sounded wide awake.
“I was really thinking and hoping (I would be in Orlando).” – Mario Hezonja. #MagicDraft
— Orlando Magic (@OrlandoMagic) June 26, 2015
As far as the question I asked, in regards to players Mario looked up to when he grew up, Hezonja responding with names of Juan Carlos Navarro, Dimitris Diamantidis, Vasillis Spanoulis, Pete Mickeal, and Carlos Arroyo has me excited about him already. Those types of players have fantastic skill sets all across the board, offense and defense, shooting and ball handling. Oh, and he can dunk.
The Orlando Magic Draft War Room was all smiles, handshakes, and high fives after selecting Croatian wing man Mario Hezonja with their 5th overall pick. They admire Super Mario’s love of the game, his swagger, work ethic, offensive skills, and that he can play both SF and SG. Skiles was not shy to point out he can be a better defender, but Hezonja has all of the tools coming from Barcelona to be a fantastic basketball player.
Here’s the interview:
No, it’s not Mario Kasun. The Orlando Magic passed up on Justise Winslow and Willie Cauley-Stein and picked a guy they’ve interviewed and had their eyes on for over a year…Mario Hezonja. The Croatian 6’8″ wing player is as confident as he is good from launching jump shots. There is a buyout that needs to be negotiated with Barcelona to release him from his contract, but there are no concerns. It’s going to happen. Hezonja will be playing for Orlando this season.
Hezonja (6’8”, 218, 2/25/95) has spent the last two seasons playing in the Spanish ACB league with FC Barcelona. Last season (2014-2015), he appeared in 31 regular season games, averaging 4.7 ppg, 1.9 rpg, and 1.3 apg in 14.7 mpg, while shooting .392 (29-74) from three-point range. Hezonja also played in 22 Euroleague contests, averaging 7.7 ppg and 2.0 rpg in 16.5 mpg, while shooting .382 (29-76) from three-point range.
Before joining FC Barcelona in 2012-2013, Hezonja spent four seasons playing in Croatia. He’s been a pro since age 13. He was a member of the Croatian Senior National Team that participated in the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup. While with the Junior Team, Hezonja helped Croatia win the gold medal at the 2012 U17 Worlds and bronze at both the 2011 U16 Euros and 2011 U19 Worlds. He was named MVP at the 2011 U16 Euros, averaging 20.0 ppg and 8.2 rpg.
Mario has similar traits to Evan Fournier, but Hezonja is more athletic than the quick Frenchman and the Croatian is bigger. Like many highly European talents, confidence can be confused for cockiness some times. He has that Euro-temper, but Scott Skiles and the coaching staff should deal with it just fine. He’s got the agility to be a solid defender. Hezonja plays in probably the best basketball league outside of the NBA in Spain, and he’s had plenty of clutch moments in Euroleague play.
Hezonja didn’t make it to New York for the Draft as he’s still in Spain handling player responsibilities. It’s unknown yet when Mario will fly to Orlando for his introduction. He speaks English. Anyone that has scouted Hezonja praises his fantastic work ethic. Will he play in Summer League? We’ll see. We know the 20-year-old will play for the Croatian national team in September at EuroBasket.