New York Knicks fans had two reasons to watch Canada take on France on the first day of the 2023 FIBA World Cup — RJ Barrett and Evan Fournier. Fans would like to see Fournier traded, especially after he put the Knicks on blast, and a solid World Cup showing could help that happen.
Fournier played in only 27 games in 2022-23 for the Knicks after he was replaced by Quentin Grimes in the starting lineup. Even though New York struggled from deep in the playoffs, Tom Thibodeau opted to keep Fournier on the bench, a decision not all Knicks fans agreed with.
The 30-year-old is officially on an expiring contract, and New York has had him on the trading block all summer long. SNY’s Ian Begley reported on July 20 that the Knicks still aren’t willing to attach draft compensation to Fournier in a trade, and he can use the World Cup to increase his chances of getting off New York’s roster.
On Friday, Canada cruised past France with a 95-65 win behind Shai Gilgeous-Alexander’s 27 points, 13 rebounds, and six assists. Fournier was France’s leading scorer with 21 points, but he scored only two in the second half, shooting 42% from the field. While that helped Fournier to stand out, the 10 shots he missed from deep (3-of-13) didn’t.
Knicks guard Evan Fournier shoots 3-of-13 from three in France’s World Cup loss
Evan Fournier told L’Equipe earlier this summer the World Cup would be his “launchpad” so it makes sense why he wasn’t pleased with France’s effort. It’s nice he was the leading scorer, but in Sunday’s game against Latvia, he’s going to have to shoot better from deep, given that’s supposed to be his strength.
Fournier’s inconsistencies from deep and his lack of a defensive presence are what booted him from Thibodeau’s rotation in the first place. He shot 38.9% from three on 7.7 attempts per game in 2021-22 when he broke New York’s single-season record for made three-pointers in a season, and he could get back to that sort of production with a new team.
He’s been linked to teams like the Spurs, where he could be a mentor for fellow Frenchman Victor Wembanyama. However, if San Antonio was seriously interested in trading for Fournier, it likely would’ve already happened by now.
As unhappy as Evan Fournier would be, it’s looking as if he’ll enter the 2023-24 season back on the Knicks’ bench. Maybe that thought will be enough to light him on fire for the rest of the World Cup, an outcome every New York fan should be rooting for.