Hezonja leaves the NBA for Panathinaikos with the approval of Barça

Hezonja tries to stop McGee in a Lakers-Portland, in August 2020.

Mario Hezonja is added to the list of players returning from the NBA after having signed for Panathinaikos for the remainder of the season. The Croatian forward, 2.03 meters and turning 26 years old, was chosen this Thursday, he was chosen by the Orlando Magic in fifth place in the 2015 draft. Then he reached an agreement to terminate the contract that linked him to Barça. The rescission clause was for two million euros, but they reached an agreement whereby it was lowered to 1.6 million and, in return, the club kept its rights to play in Europe. The Barcelona entity has now given its approval for Hezonja to be able to join Panathinaikos, but will maintain the player’s rights in Europe.

Barça signed Hezonja in 2012. After playing in the subsidiary team, he made his debut in the ACB in April 2013. He demonstrated his potential with some outstanding performances, especially one in a classic against Real Madrid in which April 2015 scored five triples. But his game was very irregular. With 20 years he bet on the NBA. He signed a contract with Orlando for three years and almost $ 11.7 million. He did not quite settle in the Florida team, although in his third year there he started 30 games of the 75 games he played and obtained his best scoring average, almost 9.6 points, in addition to 3.7 rebounds and 1.4 assists. In July 2018, he signed for the New York Knicks with a contract of 6.5 million dollars. A year later he signed for 1.8 million with Portland. In November 2020 he was transferred to Memphis, but a month later he was cut off.

Hezonja arrives at Panathinaikos, who are trying to qualify for the Euroleague quarterfinals, although they are far from that goal because they are in 15th place in the table with 9 wins in 23 games, five wins less than Anadolu Efes, who occupy the eighth and last place that gives the classification.