Willy Hernangomez was back at Madison Square Garden with his new team, but not much has changed. He’s played sparingly for the Hornets.
Charlotte coach Steve Clifford said Hernangomez has some work to do to make the regular rotation. Before Saturday’s game, he had played only 44 minutes in nine games with the Hornets. He had nine points in 12 minutes Saturday night in the Hornets’ 124-101 loss to the Knicks.
“If you were one place and you didn’t play much, I think that you would want to play more in the next place,” Clifford, a former Knicks assistant under Jeff Van Gundy and Don Chaney, told reporters at the morning shootaround. “I would work harder, do more, kill myself, that’s the way I would see it.
“Unfortunately, in the world the players live in, they don’t hear that. It’s the organization, it’s the coach, the assistant isn’t working with him right . . . No, come on. The reality is this: He wasn’t playing here for a reason. You know, he’s going to have to change things.”
Hernangomez was touted as a cornerstone player after being a first-team All-Rookie selection last season, but he didn’t stand out in training camp and was the Knicks’ No. 3 center behind Enes Kanter and Kyle O’Quinn.
The Knicks sent Hernangomez, who wanted a chance to play, to Charlotte last month for two second-round picks. He said he looks forward to developing in a place where there is more structure, and he credited Clifford for being open and honest.
“He tells you the things that’s going on, the things that he wants to do and wants to improve, the things you have to do if you want to play,” Hernangomez said. “It’s very clear. I really like Steve and he’s a way different [kind] of coach.
“Here everybody follows rules — defense, offense, everybody helping each other. It’s not like, maybe in New York it was a little bit free — defense, offense. Here everybody follows rules, everybody helps each other. I was really surprised when I came here to see the difference.”