Storyline: Willy Hernangomez Trade

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Several teams have engaged in talks for Hernangomez over the past month, league sources said. The 6-foot-11 Hernangomez, already a close friend of All-Star Kristaps Porzingis, entered the NBA a season ago with the Knicks and blossomed as the season progressed. He averaged 8.2 points, seven rebounds, 1.3 assists and 18.4 minutes in 72 games last season and was a member of the All-Rookie first team. Hernangomez has two years remaining on the four-year rookie contract he signed in 2016: a guaranteed $1.54 million in 2018-19 and a trigger date worth $1.7 million in 2019-20.

Jazz interested in Willy Hernangomez?

Regardless, Willy Hernangomez has received the most attention of New York’s centers from potential trade partners, according to sources. One team to show interest is the Utah Jazz. Hernangomez, like O’Quinn, is on a team-friendly contract. “I don’t know what’s going to happen,” Hernangomez said. “The trade deadline is coming. Like I’ve said a couple times, I’m 23, I’m hungry. I want to play. Whatever happens, I’m ready for it.”

It is obvious, at this point, that Jeff Hornacek is not his biggest fan. After Hernangomez’s underwhelming training camp — during which the Spaniard showed up “feeling himself a little too much,” according to a source — Willy Hernangomez fell out of the rotation and has remained there, stuck behind Enes Kanter and Kyle O’Quinn. Then, following a night when Hernangomez was called into greater action against the Warriors because of an injury to O’Quinn, Hornacek — who is normally hyperbolically positive about his players — wasn’t exactly blown away when asked about an encouraging performance that included eight points, five assists and three rebounds in 17 minutes. Put it like this: if Frank Ntilikina managed that stat line, he’d be praised for his greatness potential. With Hernangomez? “He got some minutes there and he did pretty well,” the coach said Tuesday.

While Willy Hernangomez is not getting encouragement through his playing time, the interest from other teams has him feeling more positive about his potential. “I feel good to know that I’m not even playing and a lot of teams are interested in me. That makes you happy, you can see that you did something good and somebody thinks you can be good in this league,” he said. “Like I said, I’m not worried about what’s going to happen in the next couple of weeks. I’m working to be ready for my minutes to come. I’ll be ready. I got a chance to play here, whatever it is.”
4 weeks ago via ESPN

Opposing executives believe that the Knicks will move one of their four centers before the deadline. As ESPN first reported, several teams have expressed interest in 23-year-old center Willy Hernangomez. Hernangomez has been largely out of coach Jeff Hornacek’s rotation this season, but teams have interest in the second-year center based on his age, his strong performance last season (8.2 points, 7.0 rebounds in 18 minutes per game) and his contract (two more years at about $1.5 million.)

Young center Willy Hernangomez also remained glued to the bench for his 27th DNP of the season. Beyond the issue of killing a 23-year-old’s confidence, the benching of Hernangomez is problematic because it’s hurting his trade value. The Knicks are listening to offers for both the Spaniard and backup center Kyle O’Quinn. According to a source, Hernangomez is attracting the most attention from other teams but that’s also accompanied with the following question: “Why isn’t he playing?”

With the Knicks exploring what to do with their four-center glut by the Feb. 8 trading deadline, NBA sources say the club has entertained more inquiries about Willy Hernangomez than any other player on their roster. The Knicks do not want to give up the 23-year-old Hernangomez — out of the rotation behind starter Enes Kanter and Kyle O’Quinn — unless they get a prime talent in return. So far they haven’t gotten any concrete offers, but teams that have been high on European players in the past have shown the most interest. The Knicks prefer to deal O’Quinn, who likely will opt out of his contract, and they have gotten only mild interest from a few playoff-contending teams who see him as a backup piece.

“It’s been really hard for me,’’ Hernangomez told The Post before the Knicks’ 92-87 loss to the Bulls on Wednesday. “The only thing I know is I work hard every day and try to be ready when they need me. I’m glad to support teammates on the bench because we’re winning now. But it’s been really hard for me. I’ve played 15 games all season. It’s hard. But I’m working hard to be ready. I don’t like my situation. When I have the chance to be on court I’ll try to use it.’’

“It’s been really hard for me,’’ Hernangomez told The Post before the Knicks faced the Bulls at United Center. “The only thing I know is I work hard every day and try to be ready when they need me. I’m glad to support teammates on the bench because we’re winning now. But it’s been really hard for me. I’ve played 15 games all season. It’s hard. But I’m working hard to be ready. I don’t like my situation. When I have the chance to be on court I’ll try to use it.’’
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February 17, 2018 | 10:10 pm EST Update