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Mario Hezonja Trade Talks

Michael Scotto

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Orlando has explored the trade market on former No. 5 overall pick Mario Hezonja, league sources told Basketball Insiders. The Magic must decide whether to exercise his fourth-year $5.2 million team option by 11:59 PM Eastern Time today.

The Sacramento Kings and Magic discussed a swap of Malachi Richardson and a second-round pick for Hezonja but trade talks stalled recently, league sources told Basketball Insiders.

Vlade Divac and Peja Stojakovic have kept tabs on Hezonja since the 2015 draft process. Sacramento nearly selected Hezonja, but Orlando selected him the pick before. Instead, Sacramento chose Willie Cauley-Stein with the sixth pick in that draft.

Hezonja has shot the ball well through the first six games of the season in limited action. The 22-year-old is shooting 50 percent from the field overall and 63 percent from beyond the arc while averaging 4.5 points in 13.0 minutes per game.

Richardson was selected No. 22 overall in the 2016 draft and is averaging 6.0 points in 13.3 minutes per game. Sacramento will pick up the 21-year-old’s third-year team option, according to Tony Jones of the Salt Lake Tribune.

For more information on Sacramento’s salary cap situation, click here.

Michael Scotto is a Senior NBA Writer for Basketball Insiders in his sixth season covering the league. He also works for The Associated Press focusing on Brooklyn Nets and New York Knicks game coverage.

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Report: LeBron James’ Camp Pessimistic of Paul George Leaving Thunder

Basketball Insiders

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Remember when [Paul] George was so hell-bent on joining the Lakers? Well, that was before he found his way out of Indiana and into an Oklahoma City situation that might suit him well after all.

Even with the Thunder coming just two losses away from missing the playoffs, and then falling to Utah in six games during their first-round matchup, there is all sorts of optimism in Oklahoma City that George will re-sign. Conversely, there’s pessimism in [LeBron] James’ camp that George would leave Oklahoma City. George has raved about the Thunder since the beginning, making it clear to USA TODAY Sports in September that the organization had earned his confidence from the start.

It’s not hard to understand what might compel George to stay. The chemistry with Russell Westbrook is bound to improve if they have a second year together, and it doesn’t hurt that their off-court relationship continues to appear very strong. Ditto for George’s dynamic with coach Billy Donovan.

Source: Sam Amick of USA Today

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Report: Spurs Want to Keep Kawhi Leonard or Trade to East

Basketball Insiders

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Fellow West teams have been told, in essence, to get lost – none moreso than the Lakers, according to ESPN. As it stands, the Spurs are determined to either fix the situation or trade [Kawhi] Leonard to an Eastern Conference team. For teams other than the Lakers, the threat of losing Leonard in free agency next summer makes the prospect of offering meaningful assets a complicated, calculated risk.

Not to mention the fact that the Spurs aren’t showing much urgency to make a move just yet.

Coach Gregg Popovich met with Leonard in San Diego on Tuesday in an attempt to mend fences, and longtime general manager R.C. Buford made it clear on Thursday that San Antonio is still trying to make this relationship work.

Source: Sam Amick of USA Today

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Basketball Insiders

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As for the recent report from Fox Sports’ Chris Broussard that there are rising tensions between the two sides because [Chris] Paul wants the full max and isn’t sure if he’ll get it, two people with knowledge of the situation refuted the idea there is any friction between the sides.

Source: Sam Amick of USA Today

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