When it comes to the player himself, I don’t need to tell many New York Knicks fans how to feel about Evan Fournier. It’s a pretty universal opinion at this point amongst the fanbase that Fournier is a player unfit for this roster because he is a liability on defense and incapable of adding much beyond three-point shooting.
But when it comes to Fournier’s recent comments to French media outlet L’Equipe, I can offer my thoughts. Fournier blasted Knicks management regarding his lack of playing time this past season and how he has not yet been traded.
It makes sense that Fournier, a professional basketball player, would be upset with not getting to see the court. It makes even more sense that he would be disappointed in how long he has been in this position and how that would add to his frustration.
Evan Fournier’s comments should make Knicks fans disappointed at the least
However, there is a right way to handle such a situation, especially publicly. Fournier’s comments not only come off as unprofessional but tone-deaf while completely lacking self-awareness and accountability. Let’s comb through a couple of the quotes from the interview from start to finish and dissect it.
First, Fournier notes how when he “realized that [he] was no longer going to play, [he] radically changed” his approach each day. By radically change, he meant not working as hard each day to be game ready. This admittedly backfired on Feb. 6, 2023, when Fournier was given playing time, thanks to RJ Barrett falling ill last minute.
"“I’m like, ‘Oh f…k, I’m going to play’. I hadn’t done the team warm-up,” said Fournier. “The game was on ESPN, I wasn’t [feeling] well. It ended well but it wasn’t easy to manage,” Fournier laughed."
Glad to see that that was a source of comedy for Fournier. For someone so upset about not getting to play, it is strange that in this interview, he would find the will to laugh about the subject, especially since he was specifically talking about how he was unprepared. Maybe the laugh was out of embarrassment, which would make more sense since it is embarrassing that this was Fournier’s attitude day in and day out this past season.
Even if you are not in the rotation, as an NBA player, you are supposed to stay game ready at all times. Fournier’s admission here shows that he quickly gave up on his team. Sure, it is clear that he, to some extent, felt betrayed by his benching, but it is highly immature of anyone, let alone an 11-year NBA veteran, to quickly take the benching in this way and have it sour his work ethic.
Next, it is mentioned that Fournier wanted to lash out as a result of his being removed from the Knicks rotation but decided not to. This, on its face, sounds normal, like he made the right decision. But then came the quotes:
"“You want to spit on everyone. You have hatred. Derrick Rose and I looked at each other and said to each other: ‘What the hell are we doing here?’ During the five-on-five practice, we were on the side like some prospects. Uncool times.”"
Hatred? Spitting on people? This was quite disturbing to hear. Those raw feelings are shockingly reactionary and even visceral. Regardless of how long these feelings lasted and even though he didn’t act on them, it is concerning to hear that an NBA player would immediately digest a benching in this fashion.
Saying that his sitting out and watching the 5-on-5 practices made him feel like a prospect is somewhat inconsiderate. The guys that played over him in practice and on game day did so because they deserved to, partly because Fournier was a liability.
It is disrespectful to paint himself in this light as if he would have to be an inexperienced player if it meant he wasn’t playing over the other talent the Knicks had. If I were his teammate, this quote wouldn’t make me thrilled.
Speaking of uncool, it wasn’t very cool of Fournier to name-drop Derrick Rose here and associate him with these thoughts. Even if Rose shared similar discontent or confusion regarding his absence from Tom Thibodeau’s rotation, it isn’t Fournier’s place to speak on behalf of him in an interview.
On top of that, Rose had been incredibly professional regarding his benching and even embraced it. Rose was happy to be a mentor and in a winning environment.
Also, according to Fournier, the only reason why he didn’t lash out was because he knew it wouldn’t change anything. Is this meant to be a shot at Thibodeau, who is known for playing favorites and being stubborn? Maybe Fournier felt his being benched meant he fell completely out of favor with Thibodeau, meaning he would never have a chance at playing again.
Or was this a subtle admission of wrongdoing? Maybe deep down, Fournier understands he was benched because he was a bad fit and hurt the team. Couldn’t he see that the team was better with him sitting as they immediately started winning more games?
Maybe Fournier has too much pride to admit that he played himself off the court and onto the bench. To be fair, it wouldn’t be a ringing endorsement to teams pondering trading for him if Fournier detailed how his game can hurt a team’s ability to win.
Finally, let’s finish by talking more about Fournier’s thoughts on his value to other teams. He ripped the decision to not play him as the cause for him having not yet been traded and said how he thinks it was odd that he couldn’t prove how valuable he was with playing time:
"“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].”"
This might be the most tone-deaf quote from Fournier. This statement also makes it sound like he is trying to make his case for why another team should trade for him. Maybe this is him pleading, begging for a team to rescue him from this situation. In possibly trying to save his career, he doesn’t do a very good job here.
Fournier mentioned his only strength (three-point shooting), and the fact that this is his only strength is exactly why he was benched. Additionally, something tells me not too many teams will be interested in trading for a player who will publicly lambast their employer while they’re still technically a member of that franchise.
All in all, fans should feel negative about this interview. In my opinion, Fournier wrongfully paints himself as a victim while failing to understand that he has played a significant role in how he has come to be in this position. It is disappointing to see a lack of accountability from a veteran and hear how deeply spiteful Fournier was and still may be with these events unfolding the way they have.
Lastly, Fournier did himself no favors with this interview, meaning he may continue to be a Knick and be on the bench; that is something both he, the organization, and the fans can all agree is not ideal or wanted.