Willy Hernangomez’s second season with the New York Knicks has been one of the most dispiriting individual campaigns. Billed as the center of the future, he doubled as a close confidante of Kristaps Porzingis, whom he was teammates with for Real Madrid. However, the Knicks big man has been stapled to a seat on the bench and draped in his warmups for much of this season since Enes Kanter was traded to New York in September.
Hernangomez, 23, has stewed about his desire for a ticket out of Manhattan since late December, but Yahoo Sports’ Shams Charania broke the news of Hernangomez’s representatives demanding a trade on Monday.
Before Tuesday’s matchup against the Milwaukee Bucks, Hernangomez discussed his reasons for seeking an escape from New York before Thursday’s trade deadline. Not surprisingly, the lack of playing time was a significant factor in his request.
“I’d like to somewhere where I can play, can have minutes and develop,” Hernangomez told ESPN’s Ian Begley. “To play in New York City would be amazing. Everybody knows I love the city, I love the fans, I love playing with KP, but you know right now, it’s not happening. The only thing I really want is to find the best way for my future before Thursday.”
Willy Hernangomez says he’d like to be somewhere where he can play or develop. “Right now it’s not happening” in New York, he says: pic.twitter.com/8PQfKnbiz8
— Ian Begley (@IanBegley) February 7, 2018
The Knicks stashed their No. 35 pick in the 2015 NBA Draft overseas and in his rookie season, Hernangomez averaged 8.2 points, 1.3 assists in 18.4 minutes and had nightly double-double projections hovering over him in 2017-18 prior to Kanter’s acquisition.
After being named a All-Rookie First Teamer last season, he was expected to be a vital component of the Knicks’ revitalization process. Here’s a list of Knicks who’ve averaged more minutes per game than a healthy Hernangomez this season.
Kristaps Porzingis, Enes Kanter, Tim Hardaway Jr., Frank Ntilikina, Jarrett Jack, Courtney Lee, Michael Beasley, Lance Thomas, Ron Baker, Kyle O’Quinn and Ramon Sessions. He’s only averaging four more minutes per night than Joakim Noah.
— Willy Hernangómez (@willyhg94) February 2, 2018
In the athlete unhappiness index rankings, that’s a tweet from a man who feels comparable toJahlil Okafor during his last days in Philadelphia. Madison Square Garden is only a few days away from #FreeHernangomez demonstrators stopping a game to protest.Kanter’s scoring, rebounding in 25.7 minutes per game as well as O’Quinn’s defense in 16.7 minutes a night has made him a valuable member of the rotation and eaten into Hernangomez’s opportunities.
The Knicks have tried to move Noah, but their attempts have been futile due to his albatross of a contract. There’s still a possibility the Knicks move O’Quinn and his team-friendly contract to appease Hernangomez, but that has been complicated by his expiring contract status. Unlike Noah, Hernangomez is healthy, only getting better and is extremely tradable because of the two years remaining on his rookie deal.
The Knicks have held off on making this tough decision as long as possible, but it’s now or never.
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