The lottery pick in the 2015 NBA draft that generated the least buzz was certainly Mario Hezonja going to Orlando 5th pick overall. Madison Square Garden was still booing the Knicks’ 4th pick when Hezonja was selected. Billed as the 2nd best European player in the draft, the pick barely registered.
Minutes later, many were scratching their head when the Kings selected supposedly-falling Willie Cauley-Stein with the 6th pick.
But back to Hezonja,the 6-foot-8 shooter who is believed to be ready to contribute immediately. Well if he’s ready, what does that mean for Tobias Harris, Orlando’s leading scorer last year who wants max money? Orlando seemed ready to stop at $10 or 11 million in earlier contract talks, but Harris wants $15 a year.
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There were a few “replacement” moves in the 1st round – among others, Myles Turner will soon take over for Roy Hibbert in Indiana; Emmanuel Mudiay is the heir apparent to Ty Lawson in Denver; Rashad Vaughn was taken in the event Khris Middleton departs Milwaukee and Bobby Portis was drafted by Chicago as Joakim Noah enters the final year of his contract.
It feels like Hezonja-for-Harris could fit into that discussion. Via Real GM:
Harris, 22, is among the top young players on the available market, and could be the most vulnerable restricted free agent to leave his team. Around the NBA, several teams are believed to be open to preparing a near-max contract for Harris — which could approach $15 million-plus per season, an area the Magic likely elect not to match given the course of extension talks last October and their current team salary structure.
Danny Ainge and Boston are cooking up … something. Amazingly, they’ve got seven quality players for the PG/SG spot, including three that were drafted Thursday (16 Terry Rozier; 28 RJ Hunter; 45, Marcus Thornton). A trade has to be coming, right? Where Boston is deficient is at SF, with role players there in Evan Turner (1 year left) and Jae Crowder (defensive-minded). Harris would be a perfect fit there to play SF or perhaps even PF when they go small.
Detroit is less interesting. The Pistons signed Ersan Ilyasova recently; they just drafted Stanley Johnson. That’s not to say they’re set at forward. They’ll have plenty of cap room to tinker with.