Hezonja, 22, will become an unrestricted free agent in July. The option would’ve guaranteed Hezonja $5.2 million in the 2018-19 season.
The Magic had discussed several trade scenarios in the past several months, including conversations with the Sacramento Kings over the weekend, but no deal materialized, league sources said.
The decision to allow Hezonja to become a free agent next summer has a mutual benefit for a new front office who didn’t draft him, and a player and agent who are eager for a change of scenery and a chance to prove that Hezonja can justify the interest that exists for him elsewhere. The option still exists for Hezonja to re-sign with Orlando.
Orlando president Jeff Weltman has been careful about committing future money to the underachieving roster that he inherited, resisting rookie contract extensions for Elfrid Payton and Aaron Gordon. He has wanted to evaluate the roster this season, and make decisions later on the future of the group.
Making a run at Hezonja will become easier to do without that $5.2 million contract guaranteed for the 2018-19 season. His work ethic has been identified as a reason to believe he can still construct a career for himself in the NBA, and trade interest will likely continue for him through the February deadline.