When the New Orleans Pelicans resigned Willy Hernangomez it was hardly front page news, in fact hardly anyone paid attention.
Was all the hype surrounding the Pels’ unbeaten Summer League run, coupled with the Lonzo Ball saga, inking a save center a minor concern.
But bringing back Willy Hernangomez makes a lot of sense from a basketball standpoint and he also offers a valuable insurance policy against injury or possible absence.
Hernangomez signed for 3 years / $ 7.3 million, which is a team deal that could end up being very important for the New Orleans Pelicans.
New Orleans Pelicans: Willy Hernangomez is a quality replacement
Willy Hernangomez has actually had a very good season for the Pelicans after being forced into action due to ineffectiveness from Jaxson Hayes and a few late injuries from Steven Adams.
Hernangomez has appeared in 47 games, including 12 starts, so he got a lot more minutes than the team probably expected when they signed him to be third center.
Hernangomez ended up averaging 7.8 points and 7.1 rebounds for the Pelicans, including 10 doubles-doubles while playing 18 minutes per game on average. He stepped up when he was called, that’s all you can ask for from a replacement.
He may have to start over this year.
New Orleans Pelicans: What about Jaxson Hayes?
I won’t go into the whole Jaxson Hayes story as full details have not been released and the investigation by both the police and the NBA is still ongoing.
But I think it’s safe to say that Hayes may end up running out of time depending on the outcome of these investigations, although the amount is yet to be determined.
Even if Hayes ends up being cleared of all charges against him, it is possible that he will get some sort of league or team suspension, so Hernangomez could be pushed into action again.
The Pelicans are going to play a lot of different lineups and will have a mostly positionless squad that can play small if needed, but as the only other center other than Jonas Valanciunas, Hernangomez is going to get a few minutes if Hayes is not available.
It wasn’t a hit deal or one that will propel the Pelicans into the race, but bringing back Willy Hernangomez could end up being very important.