Magic radio analyst thinks adjustment from being a European star has slowed Hezonja in NBA

In trying to explain Mario Hezonja’s struggle with the Magic, [Magic radio analyst and former NBA assistant Richie Adubato] pointed to the adjustment he had to make from being a European star to becoming a role player with fluctuating playing time. The former coach also didn’t like Hezonja’s shot selection or his forcing too many passes that led to turnovers. The 23-year-old is a career 33.2 percent shooter from 3.

“He’s a European,” Adubato said. “They always take time adjusting to our level of play. People don’t realize — they average 18 a game, come in and it’s big adjustment. He’s very talented, you see why they drafted him. Athletic. [He’s] 6-8, runs the floor well, nice-looking shot, range to shoot the 3. But he had to learn the NBA game. It’s so different. Nowadays, so many great athletes. A lot of times when you’re a star at another place and coming off the bench, it’s a new world for you.”


via Marc Berman, New York Post

Ntilikina and Hezonja plan on placing wager on World Cup

It’s France vs. Croatia on Sunday. And Frank Ntilikina vs. Mario Hezonja.

Ntilikina told The Post he plans to make a wager with his new Croatian teammate on Sunday’s World Cup final. If they are still in Las Vegas, they plan to watch the game together.

“We discussed it, I think we are going to make a bet, but it won’t be money — something else,” Ntilikina said. “We always discuss with each other. We’re excited and want to watch the game together.”


via Marc Berman, New York Post

Knicks Execs suggest Mario Hezonja could have long-term future with team

Knicks president Steve Mills and general manager Scott Perry said they hope Mario Hezonja becomes part of the long-term future of this young, developing team. The management team appeared more toned down about 2019 free agency as the be-all and end-all […]

We didn’t say our ultimate goal was to have cap room in 2019 — that’s just a byproduct of the situation of how our salaries line up,’’ Mills said. “There’s no reason to think if Mario does really well, he shouldn’t be part of what we’re doing. Our goal is to put together a Knick team that could be competitive in the long-term.”


via Marc Berman, New York Post

Fizdale relates to Hezonja’s youth, ready to start things fresh

When the Magic renounced Mario Hezonja’s rights in October – a rare move for a fifth overall pick still on his rookie contract – the bust label was applied with vigor. But then he changed some minds toward the end of last season when given more minutes, and now the Knicks believe their big free agent signing is ready for a breakout.

“It’s so easy to write a kid off after a couple years. But any one of you and me when we were 18 to 21 were jerks. Let’s be real about that,” David Fizdale said. “So a lot of times we discard these players and this kid still has a lot of things as you showed at the end of the year. Although he had struggled, it finally started to pick up […]

“I told him, ‘I want to give you a clean slate,’” Fizdale said. “No judgment. I’m not going to look back at your past for any negatives. I want to start from scratch and develop you and play you.”


via Stefan Bondy, New York Daily News

David Fizdale elaborates on his philosophy for positionless basketball

David Fizdale elaborates on what he means by “positionless” basketball, using his time in Miami as an example.

“Chris Bosh would take it off the glass and push it. Our best post-up players was our two wings (Wade and James), so we started figuring out, wait a minute, we can’t just call these guys a wing, a big — whatever the situation calls for, if you can do it, that’s what you become.

So if you rebound it, you’re the point guard. If you’re the first guy down, you’re the big man. We we started screwing it up in Miami and getting it right and screwing it up and tinkering with it to a point where we felt like we built something pretty good from a position-less standpoint.”

And now he’s trying to lay this philosophy on the new young Knicks. Selecting 6-foot-9 Kevin Knox, a new-age prototype combo forward, was partly on Fizdale’s urging. Adding in free agency another combo forward in Mario Hezonja, Fizdale indicated, also fit that mold, even though Knicks GM Scott Perry is very aware of the underachieving Hezonja’s flaws from their Orlando days.


via Marc Berman, New York Post

Hezonja passed up multi-year offers to play with Fizdale


The Knicks beat several teams — including Portland, Sacramento and Memphis — because of Hezonja’s belief in coach David Fizdale and confidence that he can earn a significant role on the court for New York. He had five coaches in four seasons with Orlando.


via Ian Begley, ESPN

Knicks agree to one-year deal with Mario Hezonja


Free-agent forward Mario Hezonja has agreed to a one-year, $6.5 million deal with the New York Knicks, league sources told ESPN.

The Knicks are hopeful that Hezonja, 23, will fulfill the potential to become the complete player that made him the fifth overall pick by the Magic in the 2015 NBA draft.

The Knicks beat several teams — including Portland, Sacramento and Memphis — because of Hezonja’s belief in coach David Fizdale and confidence that he can earn a significant role on the court for New York. He had five coaches in four seasons with Orlando.


via Ian Begley, ESPN

Knicks have offer on table for Hezonja … Mills/Perry/Fizdale talked to Tolliver … Could use portion of MLE on Robinson

The Knicks have an offer on the table for 6-foot-8 Orlando swingman Mario Hezonja for a portion of the $8.6 million, midlevel exception on a one-year deal, according to an NBA source.

The sharpshooting Hezonja was seeking a multi-year deal, but if he settles, the Knicks’ Michael Beasley era would be over.

The Knicks still are keeping tabs on veteran power forward Anthony Tolliver as president Steve Mills, GM Scott Perry and coach David Fizdale all have talked to him since free agency began, Sunday at midnight, according to a source. Tolliver, too, is looking for multiple years and has a handful of suitors, including Dallas.

The Knicks want to use part of their midlevel exception also to sign project center Mitchell Robinson, their second-round pick. In going over the minimum rookie salary for Robinson, the Knicks would be able to do just a one-year deal with him to preserve 2019 cap space for a superstar.


via Marc Berman, New York Post