Can the Knicks finally move off of this disgruntled veteran’s hefty contract by the trade deadline?

New York Knicks guard Evan Fournier
Rob Gray-USA TODAY SportsCredit: Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports

Complaints from New York Knicks forward Evan Fournier have come with regularity since losing his spot in the rotation at the tail end of the 2022-23 NBA season. Early season injuries, G League demotions, and a recent trade for O.G. Anunoby have not worked to Fournier’s advantage, as he’s been on ice for 37 of the Knicks’ 39 games this year.

Knicks: Is It Evan Fournier’s Way Or the Highway?

He and the Knicks are at an impasse. Fournier wants more playing time, understandably so, and at 31 years old, believes he still has juice left in the tank. Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau has been unrelenting in deploying other wing players ahead of Fournier, and noncommittal when the media has made inquiry on Fournier’s status moving forward.

Fournier’s Sizable Contract a Tricky Situation For the Knicks’ Front Office to Manage

Now, an unused $38 million price tag is left in Knicks president Leon Rose’s hands. The trade deadline is just over three weeks away, which would make unloading Fournier’s hefty salary advantageous as the franchise pursues another marquee talent before the trade market closes.

As ESPN’s Bobby Marks sees it, both parties could luck up before the deadline, and find themselves in a workable situation should that not be the case, as he speculated on a recent episode of the HoopsHype podcast:

“If Fournier’s not dealt by the trade deadline, I think there’s a good chance that option gets exercised, and then New York figures it out because there’s going to be somebody available who’s disgruntled,” Marks said. “Someone is going to lose in the playoffs, and someone is going to want to break up their group.”

Should the Knicks pick up Fournier’s option, they’ll get yet another crack at trading him in the offseason. Whether they can wait until then is a major question mark looming over the franchise. The Knicks are well over the cap at $161 million this year and with $128 million on the books next season, Fournier’s contract will remain a hindrance, even if players like Previous Achiuwa are later looked at as expendable.

Will Pursuits of an All-Star Force Management’s Hand in Making a Deal For Fournier Work?

Isaiah Hartenstein is due for a major bump in annual salary following his steady play in Mitchell Robinson’s stead and trading for a player like Dejounte Murray (Atlanta Hawks) would only make things all the more tenuous.

Fournier’s last taste of action came on Dec. 30, where he scored 10 points on 3-10 shooting from the field in limited minutes. With the deadline right around the corner, anything can transpire. As he and many around him see it, a trade will benefit him best on all fronts, as it will the Knicks.

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