Willy Hernangomez played just 72 total minutes in the Hornets‘ first 40 games, but he has seen fairly regular playing time off the bench for the team over the last month. As Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer writes, head coach James Borrego attributes Hernangomez’s increased role in large part to his improved effort on the defensive end.
“The video and the numbers demonstrate to me that he’s making a bigger impact at that end of the floor than he has in the past,” Borrego said. “(He’s) challenging more shots at the rim.”
Hernangomez will be an unrestricted free agent at season’s end, and while his modest overall role may suggest he’s not in the Hornets’ future plans, he still has an opportunity to make a good final impression on the team over the last 20 games or so this season. Charlotte will also have plenty of cap flexibility moving forward if the club wants to re-sign him. For his part, the 25-year-old big man says he’s just happy to be getting the opportunity to show what he can do.
“You always want to play a lot of minutes, you always want to play in all the games, you want to help your team win,” Hernangomez said. “So in the beginning, it was a very disappointing season because we were losing and I could not help the team. But I think after the trade deadline, I got a new, fresh start.”
Here’s more on the Hornets:
- Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, who spent seven-and-a-half seasons in Charlotte before being bought out last month, wrote a farewell letter to the city and Hornets fans at The Players’ Tribune. Kidd-Gilchrist, who said that “a true love affair developed between me and the city of Charlotte” after he was drafted second overall by the team in 2012, wrote that he’ll “always remember how good you all were to me” despite the Hornets’ lack of playoff success.
- Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer argues that the Hornets should seriously consider signing a veteran point guard to help ease the workload on Devonte’ Graham and Terry Rozier down the stretch. Joe Chealey, on a 10-day contract, is currently filling a backup role, but Bonnell makes the case that Charlotte could use a more experienced option — Chealey has appeared in just four career games.
- In case you missed it, Bismack Biyombo said earlier this week that he could have gotten a buyout from the Hornets after the deadline, but opted not to. Here’s our full story on that.