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America, Europe and a decision out of the reach of Willy Hernangómez

America, Europe and a decision out of the reach of Willy Hernangómez

Willy Hernangómez, after another season of ups and downs in which he arrived as EuroBasket MVP and from which he comes out with recurring doubts about his role, is waiting. As a new opportunity arrives with Spain, this year with a World Cup in which Sergio Scariolo’s men defend the title, he waits for what happens in the NBA and how that will affect his professional future.

The 29-year-old Madrid player maintains as his first option to continue in the United States. His destiny, however, does not belong to him. The Pelicans, the franchise with which he has played for the last three years, has the power to extend the contract that unites both parties for one more season. A very favorable agreement for the team and not so much for the player. It is 2.5 million dollars for 2023/24, a low balance for New Orleans. The term to activate it reaches June 29; if not, Willy will be free for the market.

Willy Hernangómez, who has been in the North American basketball competition for seven years, is one of the four Spaniards who remains in the NBA after his brother Juancho was cut and Ibaka was also left without a place. Garuba, Aldama and Ricky Rubio, the other three. Willy continues to want to progress, MVP status or not, but it’s not in his hands.

The role played last season in the Pelicans frustrated him more than other courses. Because of that impulse from the Spanish National Team with which he arrived and for continuing to be anchored, as in the Knicks and Hornets, on the bench and stepping on little track. During the first part of the season, he averaged 7 points and 5 rebounds in just 15 minutes, using everything the coach gave him, but it was not enough for the contribution to increase. It is the first time in his career in the United States that he openly asks for a transfer. Heat and Celtics, two of the furthest in the Eastern Conference, were interested in him.


The Pelicans were aiming for an important season after rebounding in the 2022 Playoffs and came to nothing. Specifically in the play-in. One step below. Willy had the constant support of his colleagues, who praised his good disposition. Some of those who shared a position with him, such as Zion Williamson or Jonas Valanciunas, were injured at some point last season and Willie Green kept a low profile inside Las Rozas. Hernangómez tried to go to another franchise, but for the Pelicans to have Willy for the last part of the rotation on the cheap was more valuable than trying a trade in which they hunt some selection of draft. Looking ahead to what comes, we must point out one detail among many others: The Pels have signed James Borrego as an assistant coach, an offensive specialist, the Mexican-born coach being Willy’s boss between 2018 and 2020 (and, with only Cody Zeller and Bismack Biyombo as competition, similar in appearance).


What happens at the end of the month with his contract with the Pelicans will precipitate or not reactions in European basketball. There are those who keep you on the agenda. From TürkiyeFor example, Fenerbahçe is named as one of those teams that would like him. In a recent conversation with the magazine SkyHook The pivot opened the door to a return, although depending on the conditions: “I am still excited to be in the NBA. Europe is something that I do see in the future, I see myself coming back to be able to win the Euroleague -which I don’t have and I want to fight for it- and I don’t close the doors, even now, to listen to projects. That I feel comfortable, valued, that they count on me. Winning projects yes I can hear”.

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