It was reported last week that the San Antonio Spurs are interested in potentially trading for Evan Fournier to give their new rookie, Victor Webanyama, a French teammate and a veteran mentor. And it makes a lot of sense for the Knicks as well as they could offload Fournier’s contract and say goodbye to a disgruntled player who currently has no role on the team while doing so. As we covered last week, right now, the talks surrounding a potential trade seem to have stalled as the Spurs are currently asking for a pick, something the Knicks aren’t willing to include in a package right now.
Another issue that could be keeping the trade from going through, is what the Knicks would get in return. When the offseason began, the Spurs, who had already been linked to Fournier, had enough cap space to take on Fournier’s $18.8 million cap hit without giving anything up. That could have made things easier for a hypothetical trade as San Antonio could’ve just send New York a future second round pick or whatever player the team felt comfortable parting ways with. But given the moves that the Spurs have made since then, they now would have to send back a player whose contract is close to that of Fournier’s.
Enter Doug McDermott. The 31-year-old former Knick is currently making $13.7 million and given how often and how long he’s been rumored to be on the trading block, he could be the perfect candidate to facilitate a Fournier deal. But how does McDermott fit in with the Knicks? The short answer is pretty well. Because as we all know, the skillset the Knicks need the most right now is shooting, and that happens to be McDermott’s calling card. Now, the Creighton product does have some weaknesses. He has missed some games as of late, playing just 51 games in the 21-22 campaign, and just 64 games last season. And McDermott, while not horrendous defender, has also never been known to be a good one either. That being said, with what his role would likely be in New York, those are both flaws that the Knicks can very much live with because as stated above, he fills the glaring weakness of the Knicks that is consistent outside shooting.
As a backup power forward, McDermott, who has averaged 1.4 three-point makes per game, while shooting 41% from beyond the arc over his career, would give the Knicks second unit a lot more spacing, allowing Immanuel Quickley, and RJ Barrett (when he does play with the backups), an absurd amount of open space to play with. And if he were to play alongside Josh Hart, Isiah Hartenstein and the aforementioned Quickley, his defensive shortcomings could probably be hidden especially against opposing teams’ second units. Additionally, since McDermott has only started in 94 of his 591 career games and has averaged 20.9MPG, there’s a chance that he’d be more willing than Fournier was to take a decrease in role and minutes to be able to compete and be in meaningful games again.
McDermott doesn’t possess the athleticism that Obi Toppin has, or the defensive skills of Isaiah Roby, or the rebounding abilities of the recently signed Nathan Knight, but the Knicks showcased all season long that those were all things they didn’t need much more. When healthy and locked in New York consistently boasted a top 10 defense while being one of the best rebounding teams in the league. The one thing that remained an x-factor during the regular season, and the one thing that ultimately got in the way of them potentially advancing to the conference finals, was outside shooting. And with McDermott, they’d get a very reliable and consistent outside threat that unlike Fournier, plays a position of need, and would likely have no problems coming off the bench. It wouldn’t fix all of the Knicks’ problems, and it might not even move the needle too much especially since a lot of it would depend on how Tom Thibodeau utilized the veteran forward. But with how dry the trade market seems to be right now, sending Fournier to the Spurs for McDermott might be the best or even the only real viable move as the moment.