By the time Feb. 8 rolls around, don’t be surprised if the New York Knicks have moved Willy Hernangomez to another team. He’s drawing that much interest on the trade market, according to the New York Post‘s Marc Berman:
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.
All of this tracks with the Knicks’ fragile situation.
On the one hand, Hernangomez is 23 and under team control through 2019-20—not to mention a close personal friend of franchise cornerstone Kristaps Porzingis. Moving him goes against the rebuilding grain the Knicks themselves tried to champion ahead of the season.
On the other hand, Hernangomez still isn’t playing. He’s totaled 34 minutes since Nov. 30, regularly losing time to Enes Kanter and Kyle O’Quinn. And while trading O’Quinn, who owns a player option for next season, makes more sense, Hernangomez likely holds more intrigue in negotiations, as something of a pleasant unknown.
Should the Knicks fall squarely outside the East’s playoff picture over the next few weeks, their decision will be made for them. But so long as they remain on the peripherals of the postseason discussion, the uncertainty plaguing Hernangomez’s future with the team figures to persist.