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Will there be a 4th year in Orlando for Mario Hezonja?

The Magic have an October 31st deadline looming regarding Mario Hezonja

NBA: Detroit Pistons at Orlando Magic Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Orlando Magic are up against a league-mandated October 31st deadline to exercise options on former first round picks currently in their second or third NBA seasons.

This deadline applies to one player on Orlando’s current roster; former 2015 fifth overall pick Mario Hezonja.

If Orlando decides to exercise their fourth-year option with Hezonja, then Mario will be under contract in ‘18-’19 with the Magic for roughly $5.2 million. If the Magic were to decide not to exercise Hezonja’s option before the 31st, then the Croatian would become an unrestricted free agent this upcoming summer (July 2018).

Hezonja, who will turn 23 this season, was of course selected by former Magic General Manager Rob Hennigan.

This is important to remember.

Although I feel it’s unlikely that the organization would choose not to bring Hezonja back for one more season, it’s not completely out of the question. New President of Basketball Operations Jeff Weltman and General Manager John Hammond have no connection to drafting Hezonja two summers ago; they have the freedom to decide if exercising Hezonja’s option is what’s in the best interest of the organization without feeling responsible for losing an asset if the relationship happens to come to an end.

Again, I think the odds are in Hezonja’s favor that his option will in fact be exercised. His ‘18-’19 salary would represent roughly 5% of the projected $101 million dollar cap next season. With Aaron Gordon and Elfrid Payton set to become restricted free agents, the Magic are projected to have very little to no salary cap flexibility as it is. Hezonja’s contract for next season, if not exercised, would still create a cap hold for the Magic until he was signed by another team. In other words, there’s not a ton of financial gain to be had by not exercising a minuscule contract by today’s NBA-standards.

But with new management, you just never know. Jeff and John, they are watching (and evaluating). As far as Mario’s concerned, we will know about his immediate future with the Magic shortly.