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Mario Hezonja

Dec 1, 2018; New York, NY, USA; Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) eyes the basket against New York Knicks forward Kevin Knox (20) and center Mitchell Robinson (26) during overtime at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports (Noah K. Murray)
Dec 1, 2018; New York, NY, USA; Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) eyes the basket against New York Knicks forward Kevin Knox (20) and center Mitchell Robinson (26) during overtime at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports (Noah K. Murray)

One of the worst seasons in New York Knicks history is over. A 17-65 record will be tough to swallow, but arguably the franchise's biggest offseason ever is fast approaching. This roster made up of raw talent and NBA vagabonds could look anywhere from completely different to mostly the same this time next year. Here's how each key player fared this season, and whether they should stay or go:

Kevin Knox

Barring an Anthony Davis trade, Knox is likely to remain a Knick, and fans should be cautiously optimistic about his future. Although his numbers as a whole were shoddy, there's a lot that is easily fixable, such as taking off a step too early or knowing when to go to the floater vs. attacking the defender's body. He had some solid stretches scattered across an underwhelming season: 43 percent three-point shooting in March, for example. The goal is for him to be a complete player, but we've yet to see tangible improvements much of anywhere,. That's okay, he's very young, and clearly filled with talent.

Tags: Allonzo Trier, Damyean Dotson, Emmanuel Mudiay, Frank Ntilikina, Kevin Knox, Lance Thomas, Mario Hezonja, Mitchell Robinson, Noah Vonleh
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Apr 3, 2019; Orlando, FL, USA; New York Knicks forward Mario Hezonja (8) fist pumps after a three point basket against the Orlando Magic during the second half at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports (Reinhold Matay)
Apr 3, 2019; Orlando, FL, USA; New York Knicks forward Mario Hezonja (8) fist pumps after a three point basket against the Orlando Magic during the second half at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports (Reinhold Matay)

Mario Hezonja wants to be a Knick next year. 

The pending free agent, whom David Fizdale said will continue to play point guard the final two games, has hopes of returning with the Knicks for the 2019-20 season. 

"I'm ready to talk to [James] Dolan," he said, per Stefan Bondy of the Daily News. "If he gives me that call on July 1, we're done."

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New York Knicks forward Mario Hezonja puts up a shot in the third quarter against the Washington Wizards at Madison Square Garden. (Wendell Cruz/USA TODAY Sports)
New York Knicks forward Mario Hezonja puts up a shot in the third quarter against the Washington Wizards at Madison Square Garden. (Wendell Cruz/USA TODAY Sports)

Mario Hezonja followed his triple-double by scoring a career-high 30 points as the Knicks beat the Washington Wizards 113-110 on Sunday at Madison Square Garden. >> Box score

Five things to know about Sunday's game

1) Hezonja, who had a 16-point, 16-rebound, 11-assist triple-double in Friday's loss to the Rockets, surpassed his previous career high of 29 points, which he set last Wedesday, by making 12 of 21 field goals in 35:31.

Tags: Mario Hezonja, Mitchell Robinson, Washington Wizards
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Apr 5, 2019; Houston, TX, USA; New York Knicks forward Luke Kornet (2) makes a slam dunk against the Houston Rockets during the fourth quarter at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Erik Williams-USA TODAY Sports (Erik Williams)
Apr 5, 2019; Houston, TX, USA; New York Knicks forward Luke Kornet (2) makes a slam dunk against the Houston Rockets during the fourth quarter at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Erik Williams-USA TODAY Sports (Erik Williams)

Two teams looking ahead to next year will meet when the Washington Wizards visit the New York Knicks on Sunday night.

The Knicks lost for the eighth time in their last nine games when they were beaten 120-96 in Houston on Friday night as James Harden had 26 points, eight assists and eight rebounds in just 29 minutes.

New York was without point guard Emmanuel Mudiay (sore left shoulder), so Mario Hezonja made his first start at the position. He finished with his first career triple-double -- 16 points, 16 rebounds and 11 assists in an emergency role.

Tags: Emmanuel Mudiay, Kevin Knox, Mario Hezonja
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Apr 5, 2019; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) drives to the basket while New York Knicks forward Lance Thomas (42) defends during the first quarter at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Erik Williams-USA TODAY Sports (Erik Williams)
Apr 5, 2019; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) drives to the basket while New York Knicks forward Lance Thomas (42) defends during the first quarter at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Erik Williams-USA TODAY Sports (Erik Williams)

The Knicks were mauled by the Rockets on Friday night, losing 120-96 down in Houston. >> Box score

Five things to know about Friday's game...

1) A game after dropping a career-high in points, Mario Hezonja had a career-high in rebounds and assists on his way to his first career triple-double. The Croatin forward tallied 16 points, 16 rebounds, and 12 assists in a 6-for-11 shooting performance. Hezonja, who is on a one-year deal, is certainly making a case for another one this offseason.

Tags: Houston Rockets, Mario Hezonja, Mitchell Robinson, Scott Thompson
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Apr 3, 2019; Orlando, FL, USA; New York Knicks forward Mario Hezonja (8) fist pumps after a three point basket against the Orlando Magic during the second half at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports (Reinhold Matay)
Apr 3, 2019; Orlando, FL, USA; New York Knicks forward Mario Hezonja (8) fist pumps after a three point basket against the Orlando Magic during the second half at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports (Reinhold Matay)

It's Super Mario season in New York. 

After a career-best performance against the Magic on Wednesday night, Mario Hezonja will start at point guard for the Knicks on Friday against the Houston Rockets. 

The Knicks are without four point guards -- Emmanuel Mudiay, Frank Ntilikina, Kadeem Allen and Dennis Smith Jr. -- because of injury and Hezonja, typically a forward, will play the position for the first time since his rookie season with the Magic. 

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Apr 3, 2019; Orlando, FL, USA; New York Knicks forward Mario Hezonja (8) fist pumps after a three point basket against the Orlando Magic during the second half at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports (Reinhold Matay)
Apr 3, 2019; Orlando, FL, USA; New York Knicks forward Mario Hezonja (8) fist pumps after a three point basket against the Orlando Magic during the second half at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports (Reinhold Matay)

The Knicks may have lost yet again, but Mario Hezonja walked off the Amway Center floor in Orlando on Wednesday night with his own personal win. 

Facing the team that drafted him fifth overall in the 2015 NBA Draft, Hezonja came out of the tunnel with a vendetta and it resulted in a career-high 29 points on 11-for-22 from the field as well as nine boards, five assists and two steals. 

Head coach David Fizdale said he told Hezonja to get ready to put on a show for his former fans, and he certainly answered the call over 33:56 minutes on the hardwood.

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Apr 3, 2019; Orlando, FL, USA; Orlando Magic guard Evan Fournier (10) shoots a three point shot over New York Knicks forward Mario Hezonja (8) during the second half at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports (Reinhold Matay)
Apr 3, 2019; Orlando, FL, USA; Orlando Magic guard Evan Fournier (10) shoots a three point shot over New York Knicks forward Mario Hezonja (8) during the second half at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports (Reinhold Matay)

The Knicks could have spoiled the Magic on Wednesday night, but they dropped the ball in a 114-100 loss in Orlando. >> Box score

Five things to know about Wednesday's game...

1) Playing against his former team, Mario Hezonja dropped a career-high 29 points on 11-for-22 shooting, and a perfect 6-for-6 from the charity stripe. He also had nine rebounds and five assists over 33 minutes on the floor. 

Tags: Kevin Knox, Mario Hezonja, Mitchell Robinson, Orlando Magic, Scott Thompson
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Fizdale honest after brutal loss 00:00:30
The Knicks lost 137-116 to the Jazz at home on Wednesday. It could've been worse, if it weren't for better play by NY in the second half.

The Knicks couldn't handle the Jazz on Wednesday night, losing 137-116 at Madison Square Garden for their second consecutive loss. >> Box score

Things to know about Wednesday's game...

1) The Knicks up themselves in an early rut, as the score was 39-35 at the end of the first quarter. When both teams went to the locker room, it was 74-47 which proved to be an insurmountable deficit in the end.

Tags: Damyean Dotson, Kevin Knox, Mario Hezonja, Mitchell Robinson
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Mar 17, 2019; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks forward Mario Hezonja (8) blocks Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) shot at the buzzer in the Knicks 124-123 victory at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports (Wendell Cruz)
Mar 17, 2019; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks forward Mario Hezonja (8) blocks Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) shot at the buzzer in the Knicks 124-123 victory at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports (Wendell Cruz)

With the game on the line, the Lakers put the ball in LeBron James' hands.

And Knicks forward Mario Hezonja stopped him.

Hezonja blocked James' 13-foot driving shot with 2.3 seconds left to seal the Knicks' 124-123 win over Los Angeles on Sunday at Madison Square Garden.

Tags: Los Angeles Lakers, Mario Hezonja
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New York Knicks guard Emmanuel Mudiay, forward Mario Hezonja and center DeAndre Jordan celebrate the Knicks' 124-123 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers at Madison Square Garden. (Wendell Cruz/USA TODAY Sports)
New York Knicks guard Emmanuel Mudiay, forward Mario Hezonja and center DeAndre Jordan celebrate the Knicks' 124-123 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers at Madison Square Garden. (Wendell Cruz/USA TODAY Sports)

The Knicks and Lakers both entered Sunday's game stumbling toward the finish line but it was New York that snapped its eight-game losing streak in dramatic fashion, closing the game on a 13-1 run for a 124-123 come-from-behind win over LeBron James and the Lakers. >> Box score

Things to know about Sunday's game

1. Mario Hezonja was the unlikely hero for the Knicks. As the final seconds ticked off the clock, James drove to the basket on Hezonja but the 24-year-old guard stayed with him and stuffed him from getting the final shot off to secure the victory for the Knicks. 

Tags: Los Angeles Lakers, Mario Hezonja
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Nov 24, 2017; Atlanta, GA, USA; New York Knicks color commentator and former player Walt Frazier broadcasts prior to a game between the New York Knicks and the Atlanta Hawks at Philips Arena. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports (Brett Davis)
Nov 24, 2017; Atlanta, GA, USA; New York Knicks color commentator and former player Walt Frazier broadcasts prior to a game between the New York Knicks and the Atlanta Hawks at Philips Arena. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports (Brett Davis)

LeBron James got himself a new public dissenter Sunday during the Knicks' 128-127 dramatic victory over the Lakers at Madison Square garden: Knicks legend and MSG color commentator Walt "Clyde" Frazier

The gregarious analyst began his tear into James during a timeout in which the superstar was not congregating with teammates and plopped himself on the far end of the bench. 

"This type of behavior is not -- when you're the face of the NBA, I think you should be more a part of your team, folks," Frazier said. "No matter what is going on, in the public, you got to be a part of the team. Maybe in the locker room you're not, but you have to exude that type of togetherness in public, folks. And right now we see he doesn't really care."

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Mar 9, 2019; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks point guard Dennis Smith Jr. (5) controls the ball against Sacramento Kings point guard De'Aaron Fox (5) during the fourth quarter at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)
Mar 9, 2019; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks point guard Dennis Smith Jr. (5) controls the ball against Sacramento Kings point guard De'Aaron Fox (5) during the fourth quarter at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)

The Knicks will be without Dennis Smith Jr. for Friday's game against the San Antonio Spurs. 

The 21-year-old point guard was added to the injury report on Thursday with a sore lower back but there is no indication that the injury is serious. 

Emmanuel Mudiay is expected to get the start at point guard in place of Smith while Kadeem Allen was recalled from the G-League to join the team in San Antonio. 

Tags: Emmanuel Mudiay, Mario Hezonja
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Oct 8, 2018; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks forward Mario Hezonja (8) leaps for a dunk in the fourth quarter against the Washington Wizards at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports (Wendell Cruz)
Oct 8, 2018; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks forward Mario Hezonja (8) leaps for a dunk in the fourth quarter against the Washington Wizards at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports (Wendell Cruz)

Mario Hezonja's brief tenure as a Knick has been mostly underwhelming, but the 6-foot-8 Croatian does not plan finishing out the 2018-19 season on a selfish note.

With free agency pending for the 2015 fifth overall pick, he was adamant that he will not hog all of the shots down the stretch to boost his stats and perhaps give himself more opportunities this summer. 

I don't give a s--t that I'm a free agent,'' Hezonja told Marc Berman of the New York Post. "I'm trying to help these guys as well. I don't give a sh-t about myself. I'll be fine. Trust me. I'll be fine. With my basketball skill, talent and abilities, I'll always be fine. I just want to help these guys with stuff I've been through in my career in both Europe and here."

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Oct 8, 2018; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks forward Mario Hezonja (8) leaps for a dunk in the fourth quarter against the Washington Wizards at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports (Wendell Cruz)
Oct 8, 2018; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks forward Mario Hezonja (8) leaps for a dunk in the fourth quarter against the Washington Wizards at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports (Wendell Cruz)

Knicks forward Mario Hezonja told the New York Post on Tuesday that he needs to "definitely work more for my teammates."

But the question for coach David Fizdale remains: Where?

"I think I'm falling into the same things that other coaches have tried to find: What is he?" Fizdale told the Post. "What spot is best on the floor for him? Can he handle playing the four and the two from a position-less standpoint? Or does he just need to be slotted?"

Tags: Mario Hezonja
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Oct 8, 2018; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks forward Mario Hezonja (8) leaps for a dunk in the fourth quarter against the Washington Wizards at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports (Wendell Cruz)
Oct 8, 2018; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks forward Mario Hezonja (8) leaps for a dunk in the fourth quarter against the Washington Wizards at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports (Wendell Cruz)

Clarence who?

That was the message from Mario Hezonja after former Knicks executive Clarence Gaines Jr. ripped the small forward's defense on Twitter prior to Monday night's 124-113 loss to the Bucks.

Hezonja said he was unaware of the criticism, which he answered (unknowingly, of course) with a strong, 18-point performance while going up against Milwaukee star Giannis Antetokounmpo.

"I don't know who Gaines is,'' Hezonja said, per the New York Post.

Tags: Mario Hezonja
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