Report: Knicks not desperate to trade Evan Fournier

evan fournier, knicks
Oct 30, 2022; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; New York Knicks guard Evan Fournier (13) reacts after a three-point basket in the third quarter against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Knicks reportedly tried to swap Evan Fournier for the expiring contracts of Los Angeles Lakers’ veteran guards Patrick Beverley and Kendrick Nunn.

That deal would have cleared Fournier’s $18.8 million guaranteed salary for next season. But as it turned out, nothing came out of the trade talks even after Cam Reddish, who the Lakers targeted at last season’s trade deadline, was made available.

The Lakers are reportedly more interested in absorbing Bojan Bogdanovic’s $39.1 million, two-year extension than Fournier’s remaining guaranteed money.

Fournier is owed $36.8 million until next season and a $19 million team option in the 2024-25 season. The non-guaranteed money in the final year of Fournier’s contract makes the Frenchman essentially an expiring salary next season, which makes him a valuable trade chip.

But even that doesn’t excite the Lakers to acquire the 30-year-old Fournier, who is currently out of the rotation coming off his first season with the Knicks when he broke the franchise’s record for most 3s made.

So, where do the Knicks go from here?

According to ESPN’s NBA insider Brian Windhorst, the Knicks are not desperate to offload Fournier’s remaining guaranteed money.

“There’s this belief out there that the Knicks are looking to get off of contracts and are looking to get off Evan Fournier. But from what I understand, the Knicks are not interested in shedding salary going forward. They’ll do business but like, I think there’s been a concept that they might attach a pick to get off of Fournier or something like that. And to my understanding that’s not true.

They would trade Evan Fournier, and he’s not playing for them right now. But I don’t think they feel any sort of desperation to clear cap space.”

Biran Windhorst via Hoop Collective podcast

The Knicks will continue to scour the trade market but will not part ways with a draft asset in any Fournier trade scenario unless a significant talent is on the table.

Fournier-Gobert reunion?

One team to keep an eye on are the Minnesota Timberwolves, whose all-in play for Rudy Gobert isn’t panning out as expected. D’Angelo Russell is playing exceptional defense lately, perhaps to raise his value in a contract year. But in the last playoffs, he was benched for undrafted Jordan McLaughlin in key stretches which drew questions about his long-term future with the Timberwolves.

Russell was Gersson Rosas’s biggest coup during his ill-fated stint as Timberwolves president. Now that Rossas is with the Knicks as a team consultant, will he go after Russell to make up for the foiled Donovan Mitchell trade?

The Timberwolves, who led the NBA in 3-point attempts last season with 41.3, desperately need outside shooting after letting go of Malik Beasley and Patrick Beverley in the Gobert trade. Their three-point attempt dropped to 33 this season, ranked 16th in the league, and have only generated 27 and 23 three-point attempts over their last two games.

Fournier would provide that on top of the instant chemistry with Gobert. The two key cogs of the French national team share the same agent (Bouna Ndiaye). Current Timberwolves president Tim Connelly overlapped with Fournier’s final season with the Denver Nuggets before he was shipped to Orlando in 2014.

A package consisting of Fournier, Cam Reddish, and Derrick Rose makes the math work. Still, the Timberwolves could ask for an additional draft compensation to recoup at least one of the picks they threw in the Gobert trade. The Knicks have surplus in first-round draft picks, including four in next year’s draft, where another Frenchman, Victor Wembanyama is the top prize.

Barring a return to his All-Star form this season, Russell could be extended by the Knicks to a more manageable contract. It will also help that he’s represented by CAA agents Aaron Mintz, who handles Jalen Brunson, Julius Randle and Isaiah Hartenstein, and Austin Brown, who manages Obi Toppin.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

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