New Spurs forward Juancho Hernangomez was one of the last to find out on Tuesday night that he was being included in a three-team trade sending him from Boston to San Antonio. As Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News writes, Hernangomez’s phone was stolen last week, so he didn’t learn until he got home from a late dinner that he’d be changing teams.
“My brother (Pelicans center Willy Hernangomez) had tried to reach me,” Hernangomez said. “He was like, ‘Oh, good luck on your new team. It’s going to be awesome.’ I told him like, ‘What? Where am I going?’ He said San Antonio, and I was really happy. It’s a great opportunity for me.”
Hernangomez says he was looking forward to playing for the Celtics this season, but there “wasn’t space” for him in the lineup. He appeared in 18 of a possible 45 games with Boston for a total of 96 minutes — just 5.3 minutes per contest, after averaging 17.3 last season with Minnesota.
“It was a tough time,” Hernangomez said. “I feel like I could have helped the team. I was ready for the opportunity, I was really excited to play for Boston, but it didn’t work out like everybody thought. But no regrets. It is what it is. I tried to help with the young guys.
“They have a lot of talent, I tried to be a good teammate there and do everything I could. It was a great experience. Great group of guys, great talent, but it wasn’t the right time for me. There wasn’t space for me.”
As we previously relayed, Celtics coach Ime Udoka said that Hernangomez handled the situation professionally and “it was…nothing that he didn’t do.”
As Orsborn observes, Hernangomez has multiple ties to the Spurs organization. He had a pre-draft workout in San Antonio prior to the 2016 draft, when he was selected 15th overall by Denver. The 26-year-old has known Jakob Poeltl for approximately 10 years, having met him during Poeltl’s tryout with his former Spanish club, Estudiantes Madrid. Hernangomez also knows the Spurs’ director of player performance and wellness, Xavi Schelling, whom he met during their time with the Spanish National Team.
Hernangomez is eager to play for his new team and believes it’s a good fit for his hard-working style.
“I love the way San Antonio competes every time,” he said. “They beat us (the Celtics) two times this year. I know they are trying to rebuild and they have young guys and they are working really, really hard and they compete every time. It’s going to be fun. It’s going to be fun learning from (his new teammates) and hopefully they can learn from me.”