Evan Fournier

Southeast Notes: Fournier, Young, Grant, Heat

Magic swingman Evan Fournier doesn’t feel any pressure regarding his potential free agent status, Josh Robbins of The Athletic tweets. Fournier can become an unrestricted free agent if he declines his $17.15MM option. “As far as my free agency, I have no pressure at all, really, because I have my player option regardless,” he said. “So when the time comes, I’m just going to look at stuff and look at the numbers and make my decision.”

We have more from around the Southeast Division:

  • In a discussion between The Athletic’s Chris Kirschner and Sam Vecenie, Vecenie asserts that Hawks star Trae Young needs to prove he can be effective off the ball. The could be the key to Atlanta becoming a playoff team, Vecenie adds. “The next step in his evolution is going to be learning to play more with the ball out of his hands,” Vecenie wrote. “We haven’t really gotten a chance to see that a ton with Atlanta because its backup point guard position has been a black hole thus far in his career. But showcasing the ability to be effective without having to pound the ball into the ground will play a big role in how much he can translate to winning basketball.”
  • Jerian Grant has signed with the Wizards as a substitute player but the Magic retain some control over Grant beyond this season, Bobby Marks of ESPN tweets. Orlando, his former NBA team, still holds his Bird rights along with his free agent cap hold, Marks notes. The point guard spent the bulk of the season with Washington’s G League club, the Capital City Go-Go.
  • All 17 players on the Heat‘s roster, including two-way players, will make the trip to Orlando, Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel writes. “We’re bringing all 17 guys for a reason, because we think everyone is healthy and ready,” coach Erik Spoelstra said. “We think our depth is going to be one of our biggest strengths.” Forward Derrick Jones Jr., the only known Heat player to have tested positive for COVID-19, is in quarantine but doing Zoom workouts at home.

Batum, DeRozan Among Players With Earlier Option Decision Deadlines

Most veterans who have player options in their contracts for the 2020/21 season will have an October 17 deadline to either exercise or decline that option. That Saturday represents the second-last day of the 2019/20 league year under the NBA’s new calendar, meaning it would coincide in a normal year with June 29, the usual player option decision deadline.

However, according to ESPN’s Bobby Marks, some of the players who have to make option decisions for 2020/21 have slightly earlier deadlines. For instance, if the Spurs don’t make the postseason, DeMar DeRozan will be required to make his decision within seven days of the team’s last game, per Marks.

The full list of player options for ’20/21 can be found on our free agents page, but here are the options which must be exercised or declined before October 17, according to Marks:

The rest of this season’s player option decisions must be made by October 17, a deadline that applies to nearly every team option for 2020/21 as well. The only team options with earlier decision dates are minimum-salary ones for Deonte Burton (Thunder) and Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk (Pistons), which are due by October 15, per Marks.

Southeast Notes: Fournier, Bertans, Gordon

Evan Fournier is not a fan of Wizards forward Davis Bertans sitting out of the NBA’s return. The Magic wing tweeted, “This is what’s wrong with the NBA nowadays” in response to the report that Bertans wasn’t going to Orlando.

Seriously tho. If you think its ok to sit and watch your teammates play while you re perfectly healthy its says a lot about you,” Fournier continued in a second tweet.

Bertans, who is one of multiple NBA players expected to sit out the resumed season in Florida, will be a free agent at the end of the season, though the Magic are not expected to have the cap space to make a reasonable offer to the 27-year-old power forward, so Fournier will not have to worry about Bertans joining his team.

Here’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • Heat swingman Derrick Jones plans to play when the NBA returns, as Anthony Chang of The Miami Herald relays. Jones will hit free agency after the season and figures to be in line for a significant raise after earning the minimum during his first four NBA seasons.
  • Trading Aaron Gordon for a perimeter threat could be the best way to maximize the talent on the Magic, John Hollinger writes for The Athletic. Trading away Gordon would allow Jonathan Isaac more playing time.
  • Clint Capela, who was traded to the Hawks at the trade deadline, recently spoke about what it takes to win in the league, which is something he’ll look to help his young teammates learn. “The main goal is really to be a winning team, have this winning mentality, be able to night in, night out go get wins,” Capela said (via Sarah K. Spencer of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution). “…It doesn’t matter if you play good or bad, but you have to have that dog mentality to make stops, to at least get a win.” 

And-Ones: KG, Seattle, Free Agent Wings, Broekhoff

Speaking this week to Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press, newly-elected Hall-of-Famer Kevin Garnett said he’d love to play a part in bringing the NBA back to the city of Seattle.

“If I have a dream, I would say that I would love to be able to go and buy the Seattle SuperSonics and reactivate the Seattle Northwest and get NBA loving back going into that area,” Garnett told Reynolds. “I think it’s needed and it’s essential. Seattle was huge to our league. Not just Portland, but the whole northwest. I would love to be able to do that.”

Although Garnett earned nearly $344MM over the course of his 21-year NBA career, per Basketball-Reference, it’s not clear that he has the net worth required to be the majority owner of an NBA franchise.

Still, if the league eventually becomes open to the idea of an expansion team in Seattle, it’s not inconceivable that Garnett could get involved in an ownership group. Dwyane Wade has previously expressed a desire to get involved in such an endeavor as well.

Here are more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • In the first part of his breakdown of 2020’s free agent market for wings, Danny Leroux of The Athletic says Brandon Ingram is the most obvious candidate for a max-level deal, while Danilo Gallinari, Marcus Morris, Evan Fournier, Bogdan Bogdanovic, and Malik Beasley are among the players who should be able to sign for more than the full mid-level.
  • Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report examines the most pressing salary cap issue facing each of the NBA’s 30 teams during the 2020 offseason.
  • Following a report from Sport5 (hat tip to Sportando) suggesting that Maccabi Tel Aviv may have interest in former Mavericks sharpshooter Ryan Broekhoff, the EuroLeague club responded by shooting down the idea that it’s already targeting players for next season amidst the COVID-19 uncertainty. “It was published today that Maccabi Fox Tel Aviv is ‘working on the next season’ and ‘targeting/interested’ in players,” the team said in a tweet. “We are clarifying here that this is false. The club doesn’t do that nowadays.”

Southeast Notes: Fournier, Heat, Capela, Hawks

Due to his player option for the 2020/21 season, Evan Fournier will be eligible to become a free agent as early as this offseason, and a possible next contract for him will be one of the toughest decisions facing the Magic, writes Josh Robbins of The Athletic.

As Robbins notes, Fournier is one of the Magic’s top scorers — his 18.8 PPG in 2019/20 represented a career high and his .599 TS% was easily the team’s best mark. However, “many higher-ups” don’t think he’d be a top-three offensive option on a contending team, according to Robbins, who adds that some opposing scouts and executives believe Fournier would be better suited as a bench scorer on a championship-caliber club.

Robbins also points out that the Magic had a more effective offense and a 4-0 record in games Fournier missed this season, though that could be viewed as a small-sample anomaly. Still, it will be among the many factors the team figures to consider as it weighs whether to add another pricey, multiyear deal to its books. Nikola Vucevic and Terrence Ross are on long-term contracts and Markelle Fultz and Jonathan Isaac will be up for extensions before long.

Here’s more from around the Southeast:

  • Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel doesn’t expect the Heat to add another veteran – such as Jamal Crawford – for depth purposes if and when the 2019/20 season resumes. Winderman also explores Derrick Jones‘ free agent value, suggesting it remains unclear whether Miami will be willing to invest in him on a mid-level-type multiyear contract or if the team prefers to retain more cap flexibility.
  • In a mailbag for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Sarah K. Spencer provides an injury update on Clint Capela, writing that the big man had been participating in half-court workouts before practices were shut down. If the season had played out normally, Spencer notes, there’s a chance Capela wouldn’t have returned at all or would have been on a strict minutes limit. If it ends up resuming in the summer, his odds of making his Hawks debut this season figure to increase.
  • Chris Kirschner and John Hollinger of The Athletic teamed up for a two-part look at the Hawks‘ future, exploring whether the team made positive strides in 2019/20 and what its outlook is going forward.

Evan Fournier Defends Gobert, Criticizes Coronavirus Coverage

The coronavirus pandemic continues to evolve and so does how the media is covering it with respect to the NBA.

Jazz All-Star Rudy Gobert was the first player who tested positive for COVID-19 and the French center was criticized for his careless nature leading up to his diagnosis. Gobert mockingly touched all the microphones and recorders in front of him following a media session and reportedly showed a “cavalier” attitude in the locker room, touching other people and their belongings in a way that mocked the seriousness of the coronavirus.

Evan Fournier, who is Gobert’s teammate on the French national team, believes the big man has been treated unfairly since that positive test and isn’t thrilled with how NBA media has covered the pandemic.

“It hurts me, he became the face of the virus in the NBA,” Fournier told L’Equipe (h/t Sportando). “The behavior of people and journalists has been disgusting.

“I don’t understand (revealing) the names of the sick: it looks like the transfer window when it’s the scoop race. It was a coronavirus free agency, unbearable. You can say a guy is sick without naming him… Philadelphia and the Lakers have cases and we don’t know who they are.”

The Sixers and Lakers are among the teams that didn’t announce or leak the names of those who contracted the virus. Two players from Los Angeles are affected, while three members of the Sixers organization (not necessarily players) have been diagnosed.

The Celtics and Nets also announced positive tests without naming any players. However, Marcus Smart immediately came forward via his social media, telling fans that he was the affected Celtics player and provided an update on his situation. The public’s knowledge of Kevin Durant‘s diagnosis took a similar path.

The media’s coverage of the events, particularly those within the NBA, is much less significant than the actual health and well-being of the millions whom the virus has impacted. Still, it’s fair to wonder whether Fournier has a point in his criticism.

Professional athletes, at least within the United States, are still protected by privacy acts such as HIPAA, but their diagnoses are routinely shared with the public (by entities that don’t employ them). Should the coronavirus be any different?

NBA organizations have no such decision to make when it comes to passing along medical information, as they are required to keep records confidential. It’s one reason why the Sixers had to move on from Bryan Colangelo when he shared medical information via a burner Twitter account. It’s why you haven’t seen an NBA team disclose information on any specific players with the virus.

NBA players and teams have come under criticism for the amount of testing they are receiving compared to the general population. While it was reported that teams are buying the tests privately, that fact hasn’t lessened the backlash.

Part of being an NBA player is being in the public eye. Players have a spotlight on them that many others do not — just like they have the resources to access coronavirus tests that many within the United States cannot afford.

Individual reporters and writers must make judgment calls on what information to report and what to tuck away. This is true when it comes to the coronavirus and all matters.

Do you think Fournier has a point? Or has the coverage of the coronavirus in the NBA been appropriate?

Southeast Notes: Capela, Fournier, Wall, Crowder

Clint Capela still hasn’t made his Hawks debut due to plantar fasciitis and a bone bruise in his heel. Capela. who is expected to be re-evaluated on March 18, says he’s still dealing with pain but the center is seeing improvement, as Chris Kirschner of The Athletic relays. The Rockets traded him in a four-team deal. “It’s way better now,” Capela said. “Before (with Houston), it was an 8, 9 or 10. Now, it’s coming back down slowly. It’s like a 7 to 5 somedays. There are still a lot of ups and downs, but it’s really progressing.”

We have more from the Southeast Division:

  • Magic swingman Evan Fournier will be sidelined for an undetermined amount of time with an elbow injury, Josh Robbins of The Athletic tweets. He underwent an MRI which revealed a UCL sprain in his right (shooting) elbow. Wesley Iwundu will likely soak up a good portion of Fournier’s minutes since the team will likely leave Terrence Ross in his sixth man role, John Denton of the team’s website writes.
  • With John Wall‘s max extension kicking in, the Wizards franchise can’t afford to let him play this season, as David Aldridge of The Athletic explains. Wall has recovered from his Achilles injury to the point where he’s been taking part in controlled scrimmages twice a week with the Go-Go, Washington’s G-League affiliate, and working out three times a week. However, if Wall suffered a setback in an actual game, it would be devastating to the organization, Aldridge opines.
  • Forward Jae Crowder has settled into a crucial role with the Heat, Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald writes. Crowder is averaging 13.2 PPG and 6.0 RPG in 11 games since he was acquired in a three-team swap. Moreover, he played 108 of a possible 120 fourth-quarter minutes during his first 10 games with the club, Chiang notes.

Southeast Notes: Herro, Butler, Hawks, Jones Jr.

Heat guard Tyler Herro initially feared he might be done for the regular season when he injured his foot, Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald tweets. Herro, who suffered the injury on February 3, might be able to take off the protective boot sometime this week, Chiang adds. The 13th pick in last June’s draft, Herro is averaging 13.1 PPG and shooting 39.3% from deep.

We have more from the Southeast Division:

  • Jimmy Butler‘s personality hasn’t changed but he has helped, rather than hurt, the Heat’s team chemistry, as Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald details. Guard Goran Dragic says the franchise’s culture made Butler fit seamlessly into the locker room. “They push you here. Jimmy is the same,” he said. “If you’re not used to it, it can [be] like, ‘I don’t like him.’ But this is the perfect situation for us and Jimmy. He just wants you and the team to get better.”
  • The Hawks will be looking to accelerate their rebuild during this offseason, Chris Kirschner of The Athletic writes in his latest mailbag. They will likely look to add younger veterans instead of acquiring bad contracts as they did last offseason, Kirschner continues. Davis Bertans, Joe Harris, Gordon Hayward, Evan Fournier and Maurice Harkless are potential targets, Kirschner adds.
  • Re-signing Derrick Jones Jr. and Dragic will likely be at the top of the Heat’s priority list this offseason, Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel opines. Negotiations will Jones could be tricky, since Miami wants to protect its cap space for the summer of 2021, when the free agent market could be robust. At his young age, Jones will probably be looking for a long-term contract, Winderman adds.

Magic Notes: Isaac, Fultz, Bamba, Fournier

The Magic didn’t offer a specific return timetable for Jonathan Isaac when they issued an update on his left knee injury last week. However, the up-and-coming forward isn’t expected to be re-evaluated for eight-to-10 weeks, and Josh Robbins of The Athletic suggests Isaac will likely miss the rest of the 2019/20 season.

As Robbins writes in a separate story for The Athletic, Isaac’s absence will be a tough blow for a Magic team that had already played below its expectations in the first half. While Orlando currently holds the No. 8 seed, the team had hoped to move up in the standings after winning 22 of its final 31 games last season. Instead, the Magic are just 16-20 so far, and without perhaps their best defensive player, there’s no guarantee they’ll hang onto that postseason spot.

Here’s more on the Magic:

  • Despite his injury, Isaac is one of two Magic players viewed by Robbins as untouchable in trade talks, as The Athletic’s Orlando reporter details in his deadline primer. The second player? Markelle Fultz, whom team officials believe will continue to improve as a shooter and defender. It’s hard to imagine a scenario in which the club trades either player, Robbins writes.
  • While Mo Bamba isn’t in the same untouchable tier as Isaac and Fultz, that doesn’t mean the Magic have any interest in moving him, according to Robbins, who suggests the team is unlikely to give up young players or first-round picks for a short-term fix, given the ceiling on this year’s roster.
  • The Magic face a similar dilemma with Evan Fournier that they did a year ago with Nikola Vucevic and Terrence Ross, Robbins observes. Vucevic and Ross were veterans headed for unrestricted free agency, but Orlando chose not to trade either player and eventually re-signed both. It’s not clear whether the team will head down a similar path with Fournier — Robbins speculates that the Magic will be open to inquiries but would insist on receiving high value in any deal.
  • Fultz has supplanted D.J. Augustin as the Magic’s starting point guard, but head coach Steve Clifford hasn’t hesitated to play the two guards together, and the results have been positive, writes Josh Cohen of OrlandoMagic.com. Orlando has a 104.7 offensive rating and 106.1 defensive rating on the season, but those marks have improved to 111.4 and 101.9, respectively, when Augustin and Fultz share the court.

NBA Trade Candidate Watch: Southeast Division

Over the course of the 2019/20 NBA season, up until February’s trade deadline, we’re keeping an eye on potential trade candidates from around the NBA, monitoring their value and exploring the likelihood that they’ll be moved. Each of these looks at possible trade candidates focuses on a specific division, as we zero in on three players from that division.

This is our third look this season at potential trade candidates in the Southeast, but it remains to be seen how the division’s five teams will approach the trade deadline.

The Heat are in position to buy, but can’t really take on any extra salary due to their hard cap. The Hawks and Wizards are lottery-bound, but might not have many valuable veteran trade chips to sell. The Magic and Hornets, meanwhile, are in a tight race for the No. 8 seed and could still go in either direction.

As we wait to see what the Southeast teams decide, here are three more possible trade candidates from out of the division:

Evan Fournier, G/F
Orlando Magic
$17.2MM cap hit; $17.2MM player option for 2020/21

Fournier has been a solid contributor in Orlando for years, but he has taken his game to the next level so far in 2019/20. His 19.5 PPG and .417 3PT% would be career highs, despite the fact that his MPG (30.9) are as low as they’ve been since 2014/15.

Fournier’s impressive production will create an interesting dilemma for the Magic. He’s the team’s most dynamic scorer, especially on the perimeter, and if he keeps playing this well, he’ll almost certainly opt out at season’s end for longer-term security. Will the Magic be willing to pay to keep him, like they did with Nikola Vucevic and Terrence Ross?

If the front office is at all uncertain about Fournier’s long-term future in Orlando – or is simply growing concerned about the team’s upside as currently constructed – it would make sense to see what sort of return he could bring back in a trade. While there’s no indication so far that the Magic are seriously considering that possibility yet, executives around the NBA reportedly believe there’s a chance Fournier will be moved this winter.

Justise Winslow, G/F
Miami Heat
$13MM cap hit; $13MM guaranteed salary in 2020/21; $13MM team option for 2021/22

The Heat like Winslow and won’t simply attach him to a trade offer this winter as a sweetener. But it’s hard to ignore the fact that he has only played in 10 games this season and Miami hasn’t missed a beat, posting an 18-5 record in the games he has missed.

If the Heat do want to try to add an impact player in a trade before this year’s deadline, Winslow is their most logical trade chip. Bam Adebayo and Tyler Herro are too valuable to move, and the team-friendly contracts for Kendrick Nunn and Duncan Robinson make them keepers too. Miami wouldn’t hesitate to offer a first-round pick for the right player, but due to previous deals, none of the club’s next five first-rounders are trade-eligible.

Winslow, who is still just 23 years old, is a rare asset. His upside gives him the sort of positive trade value that other high-priced veterans like Dion Waiters and James Johnson don’t have, and his $13MM cap hit makes him the sort of useful salary-matching piece that many contending teams lack.

The Heat would probably prefer to keep Winslow if they can, but if they want to upgrade their roster this winter, he might represent the key to doing so.

Marvin Williams, F
Charlotte Hornets
$15MM cap hit; UFA in 2020

A three-and-D veteran like Williams would be an ideal fit for a number of playoff-bound clubs, and a report earlier this month indicated that multiple teams were indeed keeping an eye on the Hornets’ forward.

While Williams’ playing time is down this year, he’s shooting as well as ever, with a career-best 58.3% on two-pointers to go along with 39.8% on three-pointers. And his expiring contract makes him a logical target for teams that prefer to keep future cap sheets clear.

There are just two obstacles standing in the way of a potential deal. For one, Williams’ $15MM cap charge may complicate matters — a non-taxpaying team would need $10MM in outgoing salary to match it, while a taxpaying team would have to send out even more. The second roadblock? The fact that Charlotte remains very much in the playoff hunt.

Despite their unimpressive 13-22 record, the Hornets are just two games out of the No. 8 seed in the East, so it’s a bit early to throw in the towel. I think the front office would still be open to moving Williams for the right offer even if the eighth seed is within reach, but a deal seems more likely if Charlotte slides further down the standings.

Revisit the rest of our 2019/20 Trade Candidate series right here.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.