Evan Fournier

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.

Fournier Could Be On The Move

Magic swingman Evan Fournier is the player most likely to be moved before the trade deadline, according to an ESPN Insider report from Bobby Marks.

While there’s no indication Fournier is being shopped, a straw poll of NBA executives believe that the Magic will need to start exploring their trade options on the veteran, who is likely to leave $17.2MM on the table and opt out this summer. Orlando is currently battling for the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Fournier is enjoying a career year, averaging 19.6 PPG and shooting 42.3% from long range.

Here are more nuggets from the ESPN report:

Southeast Notes: Young, Heat, Batum, Fournier

Hawks star Trae Young overcame several non-believers in his path to the NBA, proving doubters wrong while using their comments as motivation, Sam Amick of The Athletic writes. 

Young, 21, has quickly turned into one of the league’s most electric point guards. He’s averaged 26.6 points and 8.8 assists in 11 games for the Hawks this season, having being drafted fifth overall in 2018. The memories of his doubters still remain firmly in his mind.

“Yeah, it’s little stuff like that,” Young said. “I have pictures and stuff like that. Old tweets. Old different sayings and quotes from people who said things when I was coming into the draft, coming into college too. It’s stuff I just keep it in my mind. Some of it is mental notes, but at the same time some of it is stuff that I keep and I have my eye on. …But I think that type of stuff motivates you.”

Young, according to Amick, has a second phone filled with screenshots of those who doubted him. The phone itself isn’t attached to an actual line, but it’s something he’ll always have for motivation during his career.

“I’ve probably changed my phone twice, but I still have that same phone with all my pictures and all that stuff,” he said. “I’ll always have that phone, until I’m retired. And then, when I’m retired, I’ll go to the ocean somewhere and throw it in the water.”

There’s more from the Southeast Division tonight:

  • Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel examines whether the Heat have reached their development quota. Miami has several intriguing young players on its roster this season, including Justise Winslow, Tyler Herro, Bam Adebayo and Kendrick Nunn.
  • Hornets forward Nicolas Batum returned on Saturday against the Knicks after missing nearly four weeks with a fractured left middle finger. Batum, 30, finished with three points, nine rebounds and six assists in 29 minutes of work, registering a positive-18 net rating.
  • Evan Fournier‘s renewed rhythm is leading the Magic to offensive improvement, writes John Denton of NBA.com. Orlando has won two straight games after a poor start to the season, though the team has yet to win a game on the road (0-4). Fournier has averaged 16.2 points per game on 48% shooting from the field and 43% shooting from 3-point range.

Free Agent Stock Watch 2019: Southeast Division

Every week, Hoops Rumors takes a closer look at players who will be free agents or could become free agents next offseason. We examine if their stock is rising or falling due to performance and other factors. This week, we take a look at players from the Southeast Division:

Devonte’ Graham, Hornets, 24, PG (Up) – Signed to a three-year, $4MM deal in 2018
The Hornets have until July 7th to decide whether to guarantee Graham’s $1,663,861 for next season. Safe to say, that decision has already been made. In terms of salary vs. production, Graham might be the biggest bargain in the league this season. Making just over $1.4MM, Graham leads the team in scoring at 18.0 PPG and 7.3 APG while coming off the bench in all but one game. The Kansas product appeared in 46 games last season, averaging 4.7 PPG in 14.7 MPG. With Kemba Walker bolting to Boston, Graham has blossomed in an expanded role.

Goran Dragic, Heat, 33, PG (Up) – Signed to a five-year, $85MM deal in 2015
Dragic played in just 36 games last season due to right knee surgery. Dragic, now 33, has been a starter most of his career and had to adjust to a second-unit role this season. Thus far, he’s been healthy and productive. He’s averaging 16.1 PPG and 5.1 APG in 28.4 MPG while making just 1.8 TPG. Dragic’s $19.2MM expiring contract is a tradeable asset if the Heat decide to shed salary. For now, Dragic is a valuable part of an improved team that should make the playoffs out of arguably the weakest division in the NBA.

Evan Fournier, Magic, 27, SG (Up) – Signed to a five-year, $85MM deal in 2016
Following a couple of sluggish outings against Oklahoma City and Dallas in which he shot 3-for-12 from the field, Fournier has put together a nice three-game stretch. He’s averaged 18.0 PPG and 5.0 APG during that span while knocking down nine 3-pointers and committing just four turnovers. Orlando won two of those games. The team’s second-leading scorer has a $17.15MM option on his contract for next season. In a very weak free agent market, Fournier has plenty of incentive to decline that option in order to secure another long-term deal.

Evan Turner, Hawks, 31, SF (Down) – Signed to a four-year, $70MM deal in 2016
A rotation piece for a playoff team in recent seasons, Turner was swapped by the Trail Blazers for Kent Bazemore during the offseason. Turner was expected to provide veteran stability to a mostly inexperienced unit in Atlanta. But he only averaged 11.3 MPG during the Hawks’ first three games before being sidelined by Achilles soreness. It’s uncertain how much time Turner will require to recover from the injury. In the meantime, Atlanta has plenty of other options at the wing positions and the return of Allen Crabbe further clouds Turner’s role whenever he’s healthy enough to play.

Isaiah Thomas, Wizards, 30, PG (Up) – Signed to a one-year, $2.32MM deal in 2019
Thomas’ latest attempt to revive his career seems to be working out. Since returning from a training camp injury, Thomas has jumped into the rotation and seen his playing time steadily increase. He’s averaging 13.9 PPG and 6.3 APG while shooting 38.5 percent from long range in 24.1 MPG. Following a lost season in Denver, Thomas has at least reestablished himself as a rotation player. That’s a heartwarming development for a popular player who was an MVP candidate just a few seasons ago in Boston.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

And-Ones: Lineups, Fournier, Roc Nation, Gasol

The league has made a proposal requiring teams to reveal their starting lineups at least 30 minutes prior to tip-off, Zach Lowe of ESPN tweets. Currently, teams only have to issue their lineups 10 minutes before the start of the game. The move would most likely facilitate wagering, particularly with daily fantasy leagues, who would have more advance knowledge of any lineup changes.

We have more from the basketball world:

  • Magic swingman Evan Fournier, who played for bronze-medalist France in the FIBA World Cup, was disappointed that many NBA stars chose to skip the event, Joe Vardon of The Athletic reports. “To be honest, like, when you look at (LeBron) James, KD (Kevin Durant), all these guys, they came here already, they won,” Fournier said. “Whatever, it’s fine. Friends of mine like Tobias (Harris), I thought it was a great opportunity for him to see something different and compete. I don’t think they realize how beneficial this is for their career.”
  • Veteran agent Roger Montgomery has resigned from Roc Nation Sports to focus on other management projects, Jabari Young of The Athletic tweets. Montgomery negotiated Rudy Gay‘s two-year, $32MM contract with the Spurs and also represented Hornets lottery pick PJ Washington.
  • Marc Gasol showed he’s still an effective player during the World Cup, Tom Ziller of SB Nation writes. Gasol was the defensive and offensive anchor of Spain’s gold-medal winning team and that provides hope for the Raptors that they can still make some noise in the Eastern Conference. Meanwhile, maligned point guard Frank Ntilikina showed he could be an elite defender for the Knicks with the way he handled Kemba Walker while playing for France.

World Cup Notes: Spain, Rubio, Popovich, Fox

Suns guard Ricky Rubio was named World Cup MVP as Spain captured the gold medal this morning by rolling past Argentina, 95-75. France claimed the bronze by defeating Australia.

The all-World Cup team had a strong NBA flavor as Rubio was joined by Spanish teammate Marc Gasol, Serbia’s Bogdan Bogdanovic, France’s Evan Fournier and Argentina’s Luis Scola. Gasol capped a memorable three-month stretch that included an NBA title with the Raptors and the World Cup crown.

“We were not the most talented team,” Rubio said. “We were not the biggest team. But we played with heart. We will be family for life.” (Twitter link from Emiliano Carchia of Sportando)

There’s more World Cup news to pass along:

  • Coach Gregg Popovich blasted critics who are taking shots at Team USA after a seventh-place finish, relays Brian Windhorst of ESPN. The Americans won the past two World Cups, but fell far short this time, losing back-to-back games to France and Serbia. “Some people want to play the blame game. There’s no blame to be placed anywhere,” Popovich said. “They want to play the shame game, like we should be ashamed because we didn’t win a gold medal? That’s a ridiculous attitude. It’s immature, it’s arrogant, and it shows that whoever thinks that doesn’t respect all the other teams in the world and doesn’t respect that these guys did the best they could.” Windhorst notes that only four of the 35 players who were on the projected U.S. roster last summer wound up playing in China.
  • There are no hard feelings from USA Basketball toward Kings guard De’Aaron Fox, who left the team shortly before it departed for exhibition games in Australia, according to Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee. It was suggested on ESPN’s “The Jump” this week that Fox wouldn’t be considered for future international teams, but USA Basketball communications director Craig Miller said the organization “understands De’Aaron’s decision.”
  • Both of this year’s finalists were successful with players who are considered past their prime, strengthening the argument that continuity provides a huge advantage in international play, writes Tom Ziller of SB Nation. Argentina was led by the 39-year-old Scola, while Spain’s foundation of Rubio, Gasol, Sergio Llull, Rudy Fernandez and Victor Claver has been together for many years.