Knicks’ $18.9 million shooter wants to be traded: ‘What the hell are we doing here?’

NBA: New York Knicks at Philadelphia 76ers
Kyle Ross-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Knicks have been actively seeking a trade deal for veteran shooting guard Evan Fournier for weeks. However, finding an appropriate deal to unload his $18.9 million salary has proven difficult.

Fournier, due to become a free agent after one more year on his contract, is eager to find an opportunity that offers him considerable playing time. This is opposed to his current role on the Knicks team, where he is often benched despite their need for three-point shooting skills.

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Fournier’s Current Performance and Changing Mentality

Even at 30, Fournier has several years of quality play left in him. Nevertheless, his practice mentality underwent a significant shift in the 2022–23 season, deviating from his usual rigorous routine that promoted stellar performance.

Instead, Fournier began to view his role on the team more cynically, attending practice and collecting his salary without gaining much on-court experience. He shared, via Yann Ohnona from L’Equipe, “Do you know Dragon Ball Z? When the hero Goku finds himself on planet Namek, injured, in a regeneration capsule? I had this image in my head all year, every practice.”

Statistical Overview of Evan Fournier’s Season

Fournier resigned himself to this limited participation, recognizing that head coach Tom Thibodeau had no intention of leveraging him during the regular season. Despite his full health, he only made 27 appearances, starting in just seven games, and averaged 17 minutes per game. His output amounted to a mere 6.1 points per match, 1.8 rebounds, 1.36 assists, and a .337 field goal percentage.

In stark contrast, during his 80-game tenure in 2021–22, Fournier averaged 29.5 minutes per game, delivering 14.1 points, 2.6 rebounds, and 2.1 assists.

The Knicks’ preference for skilled defenders who also excel at shooting, like their promising draft pick Quentin Grimes, left Fournier in a sidelined position.

Coping with the Knicks’ Changes

Reacting to this sidelining, Fournier said, “I practiced like it was off-season. I ran a lot, I tried to progress. I’ve never been so strong. But that doesn’t necessarily transfer to your feelings and your game.”

After realizing he was unlikely to see significant game time, Fournier drastically altered his work approach. Alongside fellow benched player Derrick Rose, Fournier shared a sense of dissatisfaction and frustration, leading to a self-focused training regimen.

Fournier commented, “You want to spit on everyone. You have hatred. Derrick Rose and I looked at each other and said to each other: ‘What the hell are we doing here?’… I took things more slowly, focused on myself, and didn’t let the rest get to me anymore.”

The Silver Lining and Future Prospects

Despite the professional setbacks, Fournier discovered personal benefits. He spent more time with his family and relaxed, even while collecting his substantial paycheck. This change was not self-imposed but was a byproduct of a shifting team strategy focusing on nurturing young talent for the future.

Rumors about multi-team trades involving Fournier and the possibility of off-loading his contract have circulated, but the Knicks have yet to find an advantageous deal. As the season ramps up in September, President Leon Rose still has time to finalize a trade. However, for Fournier, a change of scenery and the chance to adapt to a new team’s dynamics sooner rather than later would be preferable.