Mario Hezonja got to hold up his new jersey on Tuesday, officially trading in Magic blue for Knicks orange.
Hezonja was formally introduced as a member of the New York Knicks on Tuesday in Las Vegas. Standing alongside new Knicks coach David Fizdale and Knicks management, Hezonja showed off his new No. 8 jersey.
Mario Hezonja, formally introduced by the Knicks: pic.twitter.com/30eAXncOu8— Josh Robbins (@JoshuaBRobbins) July 10, 2018
The @nyknicks introduce their newest signing @mariohezonja at @NBASummerLeague today! pic.twitter.com/2eDUzhiY4u— NBA (@NBA) July 10, 2018
Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel spoke with Hezonja about his tenure in Orlando and you should be sure to give the story a full read.
Hezonja seemed almost at a loss of words when asked why things failed to work during his three years with the Magic, struggling to give reasoning. The one word he used repeatedly while talking with Robbins was “unfortunate.”
There is not a lot that I can think about. It’s just so unfortunate that things ended the way it ended. We had everything in front of us, in front of our nose. We just had to take it. It’s easy to say it; you have to actually do it. But it was just unfortunate that many circumstances led [to the reality] that I had to leave what was supposed to be my home team, my family team.”
We wrote about the tragic case of Hezonja and the Orlando Magic shortly after he agreed with the Knicks on July 1, saying he didn’t start to perform in Orlando until it was too late, which was partially his fault and partially the organization’s.
A 23-year-old former lottery pick, Hezonja now heads to New York on a one-year, $6.5 million contract where he is expected to receive more consistent playing time and opportunities with the Knicks. In New York, he will be playing for his next contract after supposedly turning down offers from playoff-caliber teams (the Lakers, Thunder and Blazers) to join the Knicks.
Mario Hezonja says he chose the Knicks over interest from the Lakers, Thunder, and the Blazers. He liked the vibe from NYK -- Skyped pre-draft with Steve Mills, knew Fizdale from that process, Perry drafted him. Mills says he tried trading w/ Perry for him when he was in Orlando.— Mike Vorkunov (@MikeVorkunov) July 10, 2018
Hezonja told MSG Network that he was excited to be reuniting with familiar faces in New York, which includes Knicks GM Scott Perry, who was part of the Magic regime that drafted Hezonja in 2015.
“New York as a team has a lot of players that I already know from personal standpoint so it was a comfortable decision. From a basketball standpoint, I really feel like it’s the best fit for me.”
Hezonja also told Robbins that he appreciated all of the well wishes from Orlando fans.
“I’m so thankful for that,” Hezonja said. “It’s that connection. You can’t fool the fans. You can never fool the fans. So I’m still really, really thankful that they’re still reaching out to me with kind messages. I never had any problems with them, and I wish the best of luck for them.”