When the New Orleans Pelicans re-signed Willy Hernangomez it was hardly front-page news, in fact, hardly anyone took notice.
Will all of the hype around the Pels’ undefeated run in Summer League, coupled with the Lonzo Ball saga, the inking of a backup center was of minor concern.
But bringing Willy Hernangomez back makes a lot of sense from a basketball perspective and he also offers a valuable insurance policy against injury or a possible absence.
Hernangomez signed for 3 years/$7.3 million, which is a team-friendly contract that could end up being very important for the New Orleans Pelicans.
New Orleans Pelicans: Willy Hernangomez is a quality back up
Willy Hernangomez actually had a really good season for the Pelicans after the was forced into action due to the ineffectiveness of Jaxson Hayes and some late injuries to Steven Adams.
Hernangomez played 47 games, including 12 starts, so he got far more minutes than the team probably expected when they signed him to be the third center.
Hernangomez ended up averaging 7.8 points and 7.1 rebounds for the Pelicans, including 10 double-doubles while playing 18 minutes per game on average. He stepped up when he was called upon, which is all you can ask from a backup.
It’s possible that he will have to do it again this year.
New Orleans Pelicans: What about Jaxson Hayes?
I am not going to get into the whole Jaxson Hayes story because not all of the details have 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 missing some time depending on how those investigations turn out, though how much is still yet to be determined.
Even if Hayes ends up cleared of all legal charges against him, it’s possible he’ll get some type of suspension from the league or the team, so Hernangomez could be thrust into action once again.
The Pelicans are going to play a lot of different lineups and will have a mostly position-less team that can play small if necessary, but as the only other center other than Jonas Valanciunas, Hernangomez is going to get some minutes if Hayes is unavailable.
It wasn’t a blockbuster deal or one that is going to propel the Pelicans into contention, but bringing back Willy Hernangomez could end up being very important.