Evan Fournier is understandably upset. Leon Rose is understandably patient.
It’s not wrong either. In a little while, however, the Knicks will have to move the unhappy French shooter.
The 30-year-old Fournier recently went on a tear and blasted the way the Knicks handled him last season in an interview with French outlet L’Equipe.
Fournier, on an expiring $18.9 million contract, has been the subject of trade rumors. But as August approaches, he’s still a Knick after spending nearly all of last season as an expensive cheerleader.
Fournier began the season as the starter, but was moved to the bench in mid-November and never really worked his way back into the rotation.
He appeared in only 27 games and did not play a second in the postseason.
“When he took me out of [starting] five, he just told me he wanted to try something else,” Fournier said, referring to coach Tom Thibodeau. “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 five-on-five we were on the side. Uncool times.”
He added, “If I stayed, it would be a disaster basketball-wise for my career.”
It makes sense that Rose is in no rush to move Fournier because his expiring contract could be a valuable part of a trade package for a significant player.
The Knicks have an abundance of guards and small wings after signing Donte DiVincenzo to a four-year, $50 million deal and trading Obi Toppin to the Pacers.
They need a big wing and have reportedly been actively looking to bring more balance to the roster.
But the trade market has been slow as teams wait to see what happens with on-the-block stars James Harden of the 76ers and Damian Lillard of the Trail Blazers.
Then again, it seems like bad business to keep a disgruntled player.
Time is ticking for Leon Rose and the Knicks to find a new home for Fournier.
The world is waiting
The latest example of the significant progress the Knicks have made will come in about five weeks.
No, we do not foresee a major trade.
It’s the FIBA World Cup.
The Knicks will be well represented at the tournament, which runs from August 25 to September 10 in the Philippines, Indonesia and Japan: Jalen Brunson and Josh Hart will play for Team USA and RJ Barrett will be on Team Canada.
It’s three of the Knicks’ best players being showcased on an international stage, which feels important. The Knicks are coming off their best season in a decade, winning a playoff round for the first time since 2013, and their best players are being recognized.
There are of course positives and negatives to this.
The Knicks played in mid-May, creating less time to rest in the ensuing season.
Any time spent playing in a competitive environment carries additional risk of injury, as Mets fans will remind you after losing Edwin Diaz during the World Baseball Classic to a major knee injury.
However, unlike the timing of Diaz’s injury, the FIBA event will not be played right before the season. It doesn’t interfere with training camp.
On the plus side, added shine is never a bad thing for a team that deserves it.
So while you might be holding your breath for Barrett, Brunson and Hart to avoid injury — rest assured Thibodeau will do the same — it will be fun to watch all three play in front of the world, especially if the U.S. and Canada clash in the medal round. Bragging rights will be up for grabs along with the Naismith Trophy.
It’s a potentially fascinating matchup on a number of levels: Brunson against rising Thunder star Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Hart and former Villanova teammate Mikal Bridges of the Nets going up against Barrett and Nuggets star guard Jamal Murray.
In the midst of what has been a quiet summer, the tournament offers little to get excited about.
The perks of being boring in Las Vegas
The biggest Knicks positive about summer league had nothing to do with anything that took place on the court.
There was no hype or buzz about the makeshift group of undrafted free agents and journeymen heading to Las Vegas, and that was a good thing.
It was proof of how far the Knicks have come in recent years.
Now, part of that had to do with the fact that they only selected one player — 2022 second-rounder Trevor Keels — in the last two drafts.
It was also a sign of a candidate who does not have a place on the list; it has developed players who don’t belong in the summer league anymore.
The Knicks’ summer league teams used to be interesting because they so often had top draft picks. It hasn’t been like that lately. Their last top-10 pick was Toppin (No. 8 overall) in 2020.