Knicks forward Kristaps Porzingis said he believes teammate Willy Hernangomez "deserves" more playing time after the center was limited to just four minutes in Thursday's season-opener and a healthy scratch in Saturday's loss to the Detroit Pistons.
"He deserves it," Porzingis told the New York Post's Marc Berman. "But we have a lot of big guys on the floor and I understand everybody's fighting for those minutes. And not everybody is going to get what they deserve."
Head coach Jeff Hornacek told Hernangomez, who averaged 8.2 points and seven rebounds in 72 games last season, before Thursday's game that the 23-year-old center would not be in the team's rotation behind Enes Kanter and Kyle O'Quinn in the frontcourt.
"He told me, 'Billy, be ready,'" Hernangomez told reporters after the 105-84 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder. "... 'Just be ready for your moment.' I have to keep working the same way and be ready when my moment is coming. And just keep working. I'm not worried about that. It's the first game. I have the experience from last year, so I'm not worried about today.''
Hernangomez averaged 7.6 points and 5.9 rebounds with Spain in the 2017 European Championships, as they won the bronze medal.
Porzingis, who played for Latvia in the tournament, said he empathizes with Hernangomez's frustration, but hopes it motivates him to improve his skills.
"He's frustrated, obviously,'' Porzingis said. "He wants to be on the floor. He's frustrated. It's completely normal. I understand that. I want to put positive thoughts in his head. With his work and proving in practice he can play, he will earn his minutes. I think every player goes through things like this. It's not the end of the world. I think what this whole thing this has to give him is more motivation to work. And that's it. Just come into practice every day angry, and give your everything. And then at some point, you're going to be so good they can't ignore you."