Not one New York Knicks fan should be surprised that Evan Fournier wasn’t happy with his role this past season. He went from breaking New York’s single-season record for made three-pointers to appearing in only 27 games in 2022-23.
It’s normal for professional athletes to be displeased about not playing, which is what they get paid to do. However, in Fournier’s case, the Knicks were a better team without him on the floor. After Tom Thibodeau benched Fournier and replaced him with Quentin Grimes in the starting lineup in early December, New York finished the regular season with a 37-22 record.
It can be argued that when the Knicks shot a horrid 29% in the playoffs, it wouldn’t have hurt for Thibodeau to throw a hail mary and play Fournier, but that wouldn’t have turned the series around. At the end of the postseason, Fournier said it would be a “surprise” if the team brought him back for 2023-24.
The shooting guard had yet to air out any major frustrations with the Knicks, but that changed on Tuesday morning when French outlet L’Equipe published an interview with Fournier.
Evan Fournier vents about Knicks frustrations after disappointing 2022-23 season
Evan Fournier is still on New York’s roster, but the front office is reportedly engaged in trade talks surrounding the guard. Yahoo Sports’ Jake Fischer reported on July 12 that the Knicks are open to trading Fournier as part of a multi-team deal, and according to HoopsHype’s Michael Scotto, New York discussed a three-team trade with Phoenix and Indiana that would’ve sent Fournier to the Pacers.
Rather than pay Fournier $18.9 million to continue to sit on the bench in 2023-24, the Knicks are working to offload his contract. New York didn’t trade him ahead of the February deadline because teams reportedly asked for a first-round pick to be paired with Fournier. The Knicks not moving on from Fournier yet is something that’s frustrated him.
"“If you want to trade me with a good return, why didn’t you use me? I was coming out of a season where I was the fourth-best 3-point shooter in the league. Why not take advantage of it?” Fournier told. “Now they won’t get anything interesting and that’s normal because I couldn’t show anything [on the court].”"
If Fournier was trying to strengthen his trade value in the interview, he didn’t do the best job. He said that it would be “a disaster basketball-wise” for his career if he stayed in New York for another season and added that he couldn’t manage another year of not playing.
In case it hasn’t been made obvious, signing Fournier to a four-year, $73 million deal in the 2021 offseason was a terrible move for the Knicks. Numbers prove that New York was a better team without Fournier on the floor, but at the same time, that meant the Knicks had to accept that his trade value would tank as a result.
Fournier’s relationship with Thibodeau, or lack thereof, tanked as well:
"“I have nothing to say because I have none,” Fournier said about rapport with the specialist. “When he took me out of the five, he just told me he was going to try something else. Then at the first match of a road trip, he announced to me that I was leaving the rotation, and ciao.”"
Evan Fournier’s on France’s FIBA World Cup roster, so maybe he’ll be able to help the Knicks and himself out by proving that he’s worthy of trading for. Whether that happens or not, he doesn’t need to be on the roster next season.