Juancho Hernangomez may have found immediate success upon being traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves, but that hardly makes him a household name. The 24-year-old Spanish forward has started only 51 career games and has never played for a big-market team, but you wouldn't know that based on his latest offseason project.
The Timberwolves are in the middle of their voluntary group workouts, yet Hernangomez is not with the team. Why? Because he's filming a role in Adam Sandler's new Netflix movie, Hustle, according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.
"He's chomping at the bit to be here," Wolves president Gersson Rosas said. "He didn't realize when he signed up for the movie that we were going to have the bubble. So, we hear from him often that he would prefer to be here."
The film revolves around a basketball scout looking for talent overseas. That would presumably make Hernangomez the talent in question, and as the Star-Tribune reported that he will not be available for the full two weeks of the program, it suggests that his role in the film will be substantial. LeBron James is listed as a producer on the film.
Still, athletes of Hernangomez's stature rarely earn major roles in big-budget films. The most recent example would be Boban Marjanovic in John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum, but he has the unusual advantage of being 7-foot-4. There isn't exactly a big pool of actors that size going up against him for roles. For the most part, when athletes have major roles in films, it is because they are superstars. James is starring in the Space Jam sequel set for a 2021 release, while Kyrie Irving starred in 2018's Uncle Drew. Michael Jordan and Ray Allen have held similar starring roles, though Allen earned that role very early in his career.
The fringe benefit to this role for Hernangomez is that he doesn't have to risk injury at minicamp. He is a restricted free agent this offseason, set to cash in with a new deal after shooting 42 percent from behind the arc after joining the Timberwolves. But even if the basketball thing doesn't work out, Hernangomez can now at least fall back on his acting career. Ask Kevin Nealon or Rob Schneider: once you enter the Sandler universe, you never leave it.