Knicks fans don’t need to hit panic button about Evan Fournier being frontrunner to start

With Media Day in the rearview mirror for the New York Knicks, next up is making it through training camp. But first, Tom Thibodeau spoke with the media on Tuesday, and one of his answers stirred up the fan base. After reportedly keeping Quentin Grimes out of trade talks for Donovan Mitchell this summer, the belief has been that the second-year guard will be the Knicks’ starting shooting guard over Evan Fournier.

However, after being asked about who will start at the two, Thibodeau gave a reply that disappointed fans weeks before the 2022-23 season is set to begin.

It’s understandable why Thibodeau’s response has been viewed as a problem, but at the same time, knowing how Thibs is, it would’ve been a surprise if he would’ve said anything different. He could’ve said that the starting job was up for grabs, but again, this is Tom Thibodeau.

Tom Thibodeau infuriates Knicks fans by saying Evan Fournier is ‘frontrunner’ to start at shooting guard

One thing about Thibodeau is that he loves his veterans, which is why he repeatedly chose to start Alec Burks at the point guard position last season, although Burks isn’t a point guard. Given that the Knicks finished 37-45, it wouldn’t have hurt for Immanuel Quickley to play more.

Fournier’s forte is three-point shooting and as Thibodeau said, he’ll help to space the floor for Julius Randle and Jalen Brunson. Fournier snapped John Starks’ single-season three-point record last year, but his inconsistencies and lack of defense are part of the reason why fans want to see Grimes, a 3-and-D wing, start.

With Fournier’s name being brought up in trade rumors during the offseason and the Knicks’ reported concerns about a Jalen Brunson-Fournier backcourt, the assumption has been that Grimes would start at the two.

Thibodeau saying that Fournier is the “frontrunner” to start doesn’t mean that Grimes won’t be the starter. Fournier started in a career-high 80 games last year, and at least for now, he’s still in New York. With it only being the start of training camp, it would’ve been a shock for Thibs to come out and say that the starting job was up for grabs.

This doesn’t mean that Grimes shouldn’t be the starter. With how the Eastern Conference looks, it’d be a shock if the Knicks earned a playoff berth without going through the play-in tournament first. There’s no harm in opting for Grimes over Fournier, and one could argue that starting Grimes would put the Knicks in a better position to win than Fournier.

As Ian Begley said, he’s not putting “a ton of stock” into Thibs saying that Fournier is the frontrunner to start after one practice. However, if Thibodeau plans to start Fournier in 80 more games in 2022-23, he shouldn’t make it through the season as the head coach. That much should be clear.

Don’t hit the panic button just yet. Instead, let’s see how the remainder of training camp and preseason plays out.