So close, yet so far away.
Just a few days ago, when the Knicks found themselves down 2-1 in the second-round series against Miami and ahead of a pivotal Game 5, Tom Thibodeau floated the idea of digging deeper into New York’s bench and using Evan Fournier.
Didn’t happen. It wasn’t even close, really. And now that we’ve heard the Frenchman’s own version of his situation in NYC, the truth is that Fournier making it to the court this postseason donning Knickerbocker threads were never truly there.
Fournier didn’t talk to the media publicly following the Knicks’ elimination from the playoffs last Friday, but he spoke with the New York Post and shared a few interesting nuggets with them about his past, present, and future in New York.
“My season has been over for a very long time, actually,” revealed Fournier entirely ditching the narrative built by Thibs about thinking about maybe using his long-range shooting prowess in the series against the Heat. “This officially is the end, but my season was over a long time ago.”
Fournier has not played at all following a 12-minute outing against the Indiana Pacers on Apr. 9th. He hoisted four field-goal attempts then and hit none of them. At least he caught a rebound.
Last season, Fournier played the third-most minutes (2,358) for the Knicks and started all 80 games in which he appeared. This season, though, he only got on the court 27 total times starting seven games and logging a grand total of 459 minutes, the 12th-most among all Knicks and one place behind Josh Hart (750 minutes) even though the latter only got traded to New York on Feb. 9th.
“It took me a good month to understand that,” Fournier acknowledged. This was the first season in his 11-year pro career in which he played fewer than 38 games, and also the first one since his rookie campaign in 2013 (428 minutes in Denver) in which he got fewer than 1,259 minutes.
Fournier also said that “obviously, there are gonna be changes,” adding that, “I’m gonna get traded.”
And that makes all of the sense.
The French wing arrived in New York via sign-and-trade ahead of the 2021/22 season in a deal with Boston that cost the Knicks a hefty contract worth $73M spread over four seasons starting last year. Fournier has a guaranteed season left in his contract (2023-24), with the only one featuring a team option that will inevitably be dropped by whoever finds Fournier in his roster as we hit July 2024.
In other words: Fournier is entering the last guaranteed year of his deal and is a saucy expiring player worth trading away/for depending on the situation this or that franchise finds itself in next year. The Knicks will definitely be sellers with no use for Fournier, and Fournier will be a tasty asset for a tanking team with ample cap room to land in exchange for something after helping New York.
“There’s no way they’re going to keep me. I would be very surprised if they did,” Fournier told the NYP last Friday. “It’s obviously not in my hands.”
The Post asked Fournier (who will turn just 31 years old next Oct. 29) if he feels he could have helped the Knicks this postseason or any other team going forward, to which he confidently replied with a question he answered himself right away: “Did I feel like I could help? Yeah, for sure.”
The veteran added that he feels like he “could help all season,” and he also revealed that knowing he wouldn’t be playing in the playoffs, he still was “trying to stay positive with the guys” and “trying to help,” and “talk to the younger players that don’t have the experience.”
As far as Euro Fou sees it, he has a “big contract” and the Knicks are “obviously trying to develop the young guys,” which in turn will lead the franchise to just move on and find him a new place next offseason or whoever a suitor pops up. “I didn’t play this year, so why would you bring me back?”
One down, a few to go. Not a bad start for the retooling of the New New York Knicks.