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Knicks' Willy Hernangomez hopeful he’ll get more playing time

The 23-year-old Spaniard made the NBA All-Rookie team last year but has played only 18 of the Knicks’ 40 games this season.

Knicks center Willy Hernangomez hasn't seen much playing

Knicks center Willy Hernangomez hasn't seen much playing time after making the NBA All-Rookie team last season. Photo Credit: Erik S. Lesser/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock

Willy Hernangomez worked another kind of lane for the Knicks Tuesday night.

The 6-11 Spanish center was rolling bowling balls along with teammates, coaches, front office executives, alums and fans at Bowlmor Lanes at Chelsea Piers, raising money for the Garden of Dreams Foundation via the 19th annual Knicks Bowl.

“If we do a little bit, we can make a big impact for the kids, with everybody that needs,” Hernangomez said.

But Hernangomez hasn’t been able to make a big impact for the Knicks this season after getting stuck near the back of the line with four centers on the roster. Enes Kanter and Kyle O’Quinn have dominated the minutes. After playing in 72 games as a rookie, Hernangomez has played just 18 out of 40 heading into Wednesday night’s matchup with the Bulls at the Garden.

The trade deadline is Feb. 8, and Hernangomez’s name has been circulating as a player drawing interest. Asked whether he wants to be traded if he isn’t going to play, Hernangomez told Newsday, “I’m ready for everything. I just want to play.”

While he sounded open to leaving, a preference to stay as a contributor also came through clearly.

“I like my teammates,” Hernangomez said. “I like being part of the team. I love New York. So I’m sure my time will come.”

The 2015 second-round selection, whose rights were traded from Philadelphia on draft night, is still only 23. He flashed much potential last season as a mobile low-post threat, although he needed work defensively. He started 22 games and averaged 18.4 minutes, 8.2 points and 7.0 rebounds.

Hernangomez was the rookie of the month in the Eastern Conference last April and made the NBA All-Rookie first team. Now he’s averaging only 9.5 minutes, 4.6 points and 2.9 rebounds.

“Being on the rookie team, being rookie of the month, all the minutes I got last year, it’s more different,” Hernangomez said. “But I’ve been working really hard for my moment. It’s hopefully going to come. I have to be patient.”

O’Quinn has played well for this 19-21 team and also reportedly has drawn some trade interest. He can opt out after the season. When Hernangomez was asked if he sees things sorting out for himself around the deadline, he said, “I think everything before that, it will be clear.”

Jeff Hornacek mentioned Sunday about possibly playing “bullyball” — going big vs. small. Hernangomez found that encouraging.

“I’m feeling great (about that),” he said. “That would mean maybe I’ll have more of a chance to be on the court. I’m working hard so that I can guard fives, fours. So let’s see if we can play.”

New York Sports