18 July 2023 | 10:34 am
Evan Fournier sees only one way forward.
Both for his career and the Knicks.
The 30-year-old Frenchman blasted the team in an interview with French outlet L’Equipewhich apparently removes any chance of reconciliation.
Fournier was likely trying to increase pressure on the Knicks to either trade or cut him, and he admitted his own NBA future likely depends on it.
“I would be shot. I would be traded, it is not possible otherwise,” Fournier told the outlet, translated from French. “Or I would be stuck, and so would they. They have several players with big contracts coming up. Unless they want to pay a crazy luxury tax.
“If I stayed, it would be a disaster basketball-wise for my career. I can go one year without playing. Two, that would be terrible.”
A longtime sharpshooter in the league, Fournier signed a four-year, $73 million deal with the Knicks ahead of the 2021-22 season.
The Knicks had just surprisingly finished No. 4 in the Eastern Conference en route to their first postseason appearance since 2013, and envisioned Fournier to help address their need for perimeter shooting that plagued them during their first-round exit to the Hawks.
But Fournier’s Knicks tenure has gone awry and sent him down a career path.
After underperforming in his first year with the team, averaging 14.1 points per game. game on 42 percent shooting from the field and 39 percent from 3-point range, he found himself largely removed from the rotation and a bystander last season.
He posted just 6.1 points per game. game – a career low since his rookie season – on a lowly 34 percent shooting from the field and 31 percent from behind the arc and did not appear in any of the Knicks’ postseason games.
The Knicks owe Fournier $18.9 million for next year, the last portion of the guaranteed money, as the fourth year of his deal is a team option.
A split is certainly inevitable between the two sides, but the Knicks have reason not to rush Fournier out the door.
If the Knicks want to try to land a star in a bigger trade, Fournier could be a key part of any package to match money and make any deal possible.
Expiring contracts like Fournier’s have become more valuable with teams constantly looking to avoid the luxury tax.
That doesn’t help Fournier, who apparently wants to have his future set sooner rather than later and acclimate to a new team.
He said he believes this summer’s World Cup can help revive his stature.
“I would be very surprised to be a Knick next year,” Fournier said. “They pay me 18 million, they have no interest in keeping me. If you want to trade me for a good return, why didn’t you use me? I was coming off a season where I was the fourth best 3-point shooter in the league.
“Why not take advantage of it? They don’t get anything interesting, and that’s normal because I couldn’t show anything. I want a place where I can have fun again, where I can be myself.”
Fournier played in just 27 regular season games last year with seven starts, averaging 17.0 minutes per game and was largely replaced in the rotation by Quentin Grimes.
Donte Divencinzo’s arrival — on a four-year, $50 million deal — would only push Fournier further down the pecking order.
He struggles on defense, which is Tom Thibodeau’s regular base, causing Fournier to fall out of favor with the Knicks’ head coach.
At the end of the season, Fournier said he had no relationship with Thibodeau.
“When he took me out of [starting] five, he just told me he wanted to try something else,” Fournier said. “Then at the first game of a road trip, he announced to me that I was leaving the rotation, and ciao.
“At first you want to spit on everybody. You have hate. Derrick Rose and I looked at each other and said to each other, ‘What the hell are we doing here?’ During 5×5 we were on the side. Uncool times. And when I realized that wasn’t going to change, I took things slower. I focused on me and didn’t let the rest get to me anymore.”