On the first day of free agency, it was announced that the New York Knicks agreed to a one-year/$6.5 million deal with Mario Hezonja. The news was first reported by ESPN.

The 23-year-old (listed at 6-8, 218 lbs.) is capable of manning either forward position. New York becomes the second NBA team of his career after he spent his first three seasons with the Orlando Magic. Orlando decided to decline his fourth-year option which would have been worth a little over $5.2 million.

Hezonja has yet to live up to his high draft choice

In 2015, the Magic selected Hezonja with the fifth pick overall in the draft after he played professionally for FC Barcelona in Spain.

In that same draft, the Knicks took Kristaps Porzingis the pick before.

Hezonja’s first two seasons saw him struggle to find his footing in the league. During his rookie season of 2015-16, he played in 79 games. He finished with averages of 6.1 points, 2.2 rebounds, and 1.4 assists. He shot 43.3 percent from the field and 34.9 percent on three-point tries.

While his rookie season can be considered uninspiring, his second year in the NBA saw him struggle even more. Hezonja played in 65 games in 2016-17 and was given an average of about three less minutes per game (14.8 compared to 17.9 his rookie season). His averages dipped down to 4.9 points, 2.2 rebounds, and 1.0 assists. His jump shot all but disappeared on him.

He ended the season with an ugly 35.5 field goal percentage and 29.9 three-point percentage.

Best season came in 2017-18

Hezonja finally began showing some signs as to why he was one of the more sought-after prospects (albeit not always consistently) in the 2015 NBA Draft last season.

He began to receive more regular minutes (22.1 in 75 outings).

His scoring nearly doubled from 2016-17 as he averaged 9.6 points to go along with 3.7 rebounds and 1.4 assists.

After an atrocious season shooting the ball in 2016-17, Hezonja began to look much more comfortable and fluid with his release. He ended the season with a career-best 44.2 field goal percentage. While his three-point shooting never really took off (33.7 percent), it was still a lot better than in 2016-17.

He scored 20+ points six times on the season with five of those outings coming in his last 31 games.

What Hezonja’s signing could mean for the Knicks next season

A starting forward tandem of Hezonja and rookie Kevin Knox can easily be envisioned, at least while Kristaps Porzingis is on the mend from his torn ACL (not expected back until at least December, if not longer).

More playing time could open up if the team is able to trade Courtney Lee. Hoops Rumors is reporting that the Knicks are exploring trading the 32-year-old (turns 33 on October 3). He has a little over $25 million over two years left on the deal he signed with New York in 2016.

Hezonja’s signing could also spell the end of Michael Beasley’s tenure with the Knicks after just one season. Becoming somewhat of a fan-favorite, Beasley averaged 13.2 points last season.

(All stats listed in the article were taken from basketball-reference.com.)