Evan Fournier, who said in May that he didn’t expect to be back with the Knicks in 2023/24, has remained with the team through the draft and free agency. However, in an interview with Yann Ohnona of French outlet L’Equipe (subscription required), Fournier suggested he’d still be “very surprised” to open next season with the Knicks.
Given that he’s on a sizable expiring contract, Fournier would be a useful salary-matching piece in any major trade, so the Knicks will presumably be reluctant to simply cut him if no such deal materializes before the season begins. However, the 30-year-old – who started the first seven games of last season and then appeared in just 20 the rest of the way – certainly doesn’t sound like a player who’s excited about the idea of staying in New York.
Fournier’s comments to L’Equipe, as translated and relayed by BasketNews.com and Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News, are candid and honest. The veteran swingman spoke about the experience of being benched last season, his relationship – or lack thereof – with head coach Tom Thibodeau, and what might be next for him.
Here are a few of the highlights:
On how he reacted to being pulled from the Knicks’ rotation last season:
“You want to spit on everyone. You have hatred. Derrick Rose (who was also benched) and I looked at each other and said to each other: ‘What the hell are we doing here?’ During the five-on-five practices, 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 myself and didn’t let the rest get to me anymore.”
On his rapport with Thibodeau:
“I have nothing to say because I have none. When he took me out of the (starting lineup), he just told me he was going to try something else. Then before the first game of a road trip, he announced to me that I was leaving the rotation, and ciao.”
On his current trade value:
“If you want to trade me for a good return, why didn’t you use me? I was coming off a season where I was the fourth-best 3-point shooter in the league (in total makes). Why not take advantage of it? Now they won’t get anything interesting and that’s normal because I couldn’t show anything (on the court).”
On what sort of effect staying with the Knicks would have on his career:
“If I stayed, it would be a disaster, sportingly, for my career, everything. A year without playing, I can manage. Two… that would be terrible.”
On whether he’d be interested in teaming up with fellow Frenchman Victor Wembanyama in San Antonio:
“I want a spot where I can have fun again, where I can be myself. Would their game be more suited to me? It’s not the Spurs of 2014 anymore but playing for (Gregg Popovich), learning from him, it would be a pleasure and an honor, for sure. … Being with Victor, looking at the (2024) Olympics, being able to start connecting on the court, that would be great.”