After defeating the Minnesota Timberwolves on Monday the New York Knicks are sitting at an even 5-5 record. The franchise is currently eighth in the Eastern Conference standings, good for a high-end seed in the play-in if the season ended today. Of course, that is not the case. But, what if this was already February and the trade deadline was about to hit our schedules?
That is what Greg Swartz, writing for Bleacher Report, theorized about in an opinion piece a couple of days ago in which he guesses what every NBA team would do if the trade deadline was around the corner.
In the section about your beloved Knickerbockers, Swartz reasons that New York should trade away Evan Fournier based on how negatively the Frenchman impacts the Knicks game.
When Fournier is on the floor, New York has a Net Rating of minus-8.9 compared to a plus-7.3 when he’s off it.
The truth is that the Knicks started the season with Quentin Grimes sitting on the shelves nurturing an injury that is now nearly in his rearview mirror. What started with Fournier making it to the starting lineup for the first seven games of the year (3-4 record) has now turned in three consecutive games with the vet starting games sitting on the pine (2-1) and making way for Cam Reddish to start in his place.
The change in net rating, though, is still ridiculous no matter what: it amounts to a swing of 16 points per 100 possessions for the Knicks on the minutes Fournier plays compared to those he spends on the bench.
Of course, as Swartz points out in his piece, “New York isn’t going to get anything of value in return for Fournier.” and that might actually be true.
Last offseason, New York was able to send Alec Burks (along with Nerlens Noel and two second-round picks) to Detroit in exchange for Nikola Radicevic and a second-rounder in a salary dump. In a similar move, the Knicks moved on from Kemba Walker paying a first-round for that to happen, but also receiving three in exchange for the No. 11 overall pick.
In any case, Fournier’s skill set—as a noted marksman without a clue of how to operate on defense—is definitely more suited to an off-the-bench role than a daily gig on the starting lineup.
This past summer, the Knicks decided to bet on youth and development instead of acquiring a proven, tested, and legitimately established superstar in Donovan Mitchell. The front office decided to prioritize keeping the likes of Grimes, RJ Barrett, Obi Toppin, and Immanuel Quickley in tow instead of moving them and highly-coveted draft picks.
That being the case, it’ll make sense for the brass to at least explore deals involving veterans such as Fournier and, in a similar vein, Julius Randle.
Fournier is currently attempting 4.6 3PA per game while hitting them at a 37% clip. From the field, Fournier has not been much better hitting buckets at a 39.7% clip, the 319th-best mark in the NBA among a group of 437 players with at least one FGA through games played yesterday.
Looking at it from a per-100-possession angle, Fournier is hitting the 38th-most three-pointers (3.9) among 167 players with at least 70 FGA to date. On the other hand, he’s making only 6.6 FGM (148th) per 100 possessions, highlighting his long-range-hitting prowess but also a waste of shots from inside the arc.
Fournier, though, isn’t hiding his style of play—he’s one of only 15 players shooting more than 60% of his total field goal attempts from beyond the arc and his 63% 3-Point Attempt Rate ranks 9th among players with at least 70 FGA.
The problem, of course, is that among those in the aforementioned 15-man club, Fournier (.040) is contributing the third-fewest Win Shares per 48 minutes—only above Doug McDermott (.020) and Klay Thompson (minus-.058). Fournier also boasts the worst Offensive Box Plus/Minus of all 15 players at minus-2.7 while carrying the third-highest turnover rate (13.6%) among them.
So, what do you think, P&T? Should the Knicks get rid of Evan Fournier at the first chance they get, try to build up his value leading up to the actual trade deadline... or just hold onto him for the remainder of his two-year deal exploiting his talents as an off-the-bench microwave?
Share your thoughts in the comments section below and let others know!