Representatives for second-year center Willy Hernangomez have informed the Knicks he would like to be traded.
Billy-ball may be leaving New York and coming to an NBA city near you. According to multiple reports, New York Knicks center Willy Hernangomez is seeking a trade from the Knicks ahead of the Feb. 8 trade deadline. Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports explains that Hernangomez’s representatives contacted the Knicks recently to inform them of his desire to play elsewhere.
Sources: Center Willy Hernangomez seeks trade from the New York Knicks before NBA's Thursday deadline. Story: https://t.co/64RBpYm9Fv
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) February 5, 2018
Whether Hernangomez remains a Knick or not remains in question. One league source did note that his agent contacted the Knicks due to a lack of playing time, added Zach Brazilier and Marc Berman of the New York Post, but noted that the Knicks are unlikely to acquiesce to the request unless they receive better future assets in return as team brass still thinks the second-year big man can help the Knicks in the future.
Hernangomez is the asset about which teams most ardently inquire, adds the Post, noting that he will make just $3.1 million over the next two seasons, a modest contract for a player with upside.
A close friend of star Kristaps Porzingis, Hernangomez remains frustrated at the lack of playing time but intimated his relationship with the Knicks is not irreparable, telling Newsday’s Al Iannazonne “I just want to play. I love New York, I love my teammates. But I need to play. I love basketball so much. I need to play.”
Hernangomez’s stance is correct, but so is the Knicks’. Indeed, he needs to play, but he also represents too valuable of a commodity for the Knicks to give away. Like Enes Kanter, he puts up numbers whenever on the floor but is a liability on the defensive end. However, he makes a fraction of what Kanter earns and is in just his second year. Kyle O’Quinn is likely to become a free agent after the season. The solution is finding a way to re-integrate the talented Hernangomez into the Knicks plans rather than trading him.
The multi-talented Spaniard has shown flashes of brilliance when on the floor, especially on the offensive end and the ability to work seamlessly with Porzingis, his former teammate in Spain. Hornacek has alluded to his defensive deficiencies while starting Kanter.
Instead of trading a cost-effective developing player, the Knicks could find a taker for O’Quinn or Kanter, who has one more season left on his contract at over $18 million. Kanter’s value is will likely never be higher. He is averaging 14.0 points and 10.5 rebounds
This latest development represents a culmination of a somewhat unexpected downward arc that has developed as an outgrowth of the Knicks’ glut in the middle. Hernangomez was penciled in as the Knicks after a breakout rookie campaign in which he made the All-Rookie Team.
Hernangomez isn’t the only unhappy camper. Last year’s starter at the pivot, Joakim Noah, remains away from the team after he got into multiple altercations with Hornacek. The Knicks have unsuccessfully sought to deal Noah, who is in the second of four-year, $72-million deal.