When the New York Knicks gave Evan Fournier a four-year, $73 million deal, they anticipated he would bring elite shooting with shot creation capabilities with him from Boston.
However, over 16 games this season, Fournier has been a disappointment in every category. The French sharpshooter is averaging 40.6% from the field and 35.1% from three-point range, posting 12.2 points per game. Prior to Saturdayâ€™s fantastic outing against the Houston Rockets, Fournier contributed 7.0 points or less in the previous four contests.
Fournier was playing so poorly, head coach Tom Thibodeau was forced to reduce his minutes significantly, offering more opportunities to Alec Burks and Immanuel Quickley, who capitalized. Nonetheless, given how much the Knicks are dishing out for his services, Thibodeau canâ€™t simply keep him in the doghouse forever.
â€œThe way I look at it, I canâ€™t just play like I did with other teams knowing Iâ€™d play 32 minutes at least,â€ said Fournier this week. â€œI know where my shots are coming from, I know how things are going to go for me. So I can get into the game knowing that.
Fournier is used to having guaranteed minutes, but with the team as deep as the Knicks, they can replace him without missing a beat. He’s starting to understand that he must earn his spot on the team, and the contract wonâ€™t stop Thibs from reducing his role.
â€œI think the situation right now is I donâ€™t know how many minutes Iâ€™m going to play, so I have to have the mindset of: If Iâ€™m going to play 20 minutes, then just come out the gate with extreme energy. Being very alert. Being ultra-aggressive. And trying to have an impact.â€
A bit of pressure seemed to do Fournier good against Houston, as he scored 19 points, shooting 53.8% from the field and 50% from three-point range, hitting five shots from deep. This was the performance he needed to get back on track, but that doesnâ€™t mean heâ€™s out of the doghouse just yet, as Thibodeau wants to see more consistency from one of his highest-paid players.