Evan Fournier: Another season with Knicks ‘would be a disaster’

19 July 2023

With free agency petering out and only about two months until training camp, Evan Fournier remains on the Knicks roster but is worried that another season in New York would ruin his career.

“If I stayed, it would be a disaster, sportingly, for my career, everything,” Fournier told French publication L’Equipe in a wide-ranging interview from his home in Manhattan. “A year without playing, I can manage.

“Two… that would be terrible.”

Fournier, who signed a three-year, $54 million deal in 2021, was pulled from Tom Thibodeau’s rotation in December and spent most of the season parked on the bench.

The 30-year-old said he took it hard, at first.

“You want to spit on everyone. You have hatred,” Fournier said. “Derrick Rose [who was also pulled from the rotation] and I looked at each other and said to each other, ‘What the hell are we doing here?’

“During the 5x5s at practice, we were on the side like some prospects. Uncool times. And when I realized that wouldn’t change, I took things more slowly. I focused on me and didn’t let the rest get to me anymore.”

Fournier added that the explanation from Tom Thibodeau was abrupt and the player-coach relationship was nonexistent.

“I have nothing to say because I have no [rapport with Thibodeau],” Fournier said. “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.”

The previous season, Fournier was third on the Knicks in minutes played and set the franchise record for 3-pointers. But the team struggled and Thibodeau replaced Fournier in the lineup with the more defensive-minded Quentin Grimes.

After six games coming off the bench, Fournier was pulled from the rotation entirely as Miles McBride and Immanuel Quickley ate up the backcourt bench minutes. The acquisitions of Josh Hart and Donte DiVincenzo further pushed away the possibility of Fournier ever rediscovering a role in New York.

Fournier said he was happy the team didn’t trade him before the February deadline because he didn’t want to uproot his family. But the Frenchman, who is preparing to represent his country at next month’s FIBA World Cup, said his value has now tanked.

“If you want to trade me with a good return, why didn’t you use me?” Fournier said. “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?”

Still, Fournier’s contract holds value to the Knicks as an expiring $18.9 million. If they ever pull the trigger on a deal for a star, Fournier would likely be included to match salaries.

There were unsubstantiated rumors over the summer of a deal to the Spurs, where Fournier could’ve helped mentor his fellow countryman Victor Wembanyama. Fournier would’ve been satisfied if only because it’s a change of scenery.

“I want a spot where I have fun again, where I can be myself,” he said. “Would their game be more suited to me? It’s not the Spurs of 2014 anymore. But it is sure that playing for Pop [Gregg Popovich], learning from him, it would be a pleasure, an honor.”

Although the clock is running out on the offseason, Fournier still believes the Knicks will move him.

“I am going to be traded, it is not possible otherwise. Or I’d be stuck, and so would they,” Fournier said, citing the Knicks’ salary cap situation.


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