Evan Fournier

Olympic Notes: France, Australia, Germany, Brazil

Ahead of the 2024 Olympics in Paris, the host nation has announced its preliminary 19-man roster (Twitter link). As Eurohoops relays, the headliners on France’s squad are big men Victor Wembanyama and Rudy Gobert, the top two finishers in this year’s Defensive Player of the Year vote.

However, there are several more notable NBA names on the list, including Nicolas Batum, Evan Fournier, Bilal Coulibaly, and Ousmane Dieng. Other recent NBAers who didn’t finish the 2023/24 season on a roster include Killian Hayes, Frank Ntilikina, and Theo Maledon.

One player not on France’s roster is veteran guard Mike James. The 2023/24 EuroLeague MVP is an American, but according to a report from L’Equipe (hat tip to BasketNews.com), the French Basketball Federation explored the possibility of getting a French passport for James, who has played for AS Monaco in France’s LNB Pro A since 2021. That effort didn’t make any real headway, however.

“We do not have the culture of other nations which use naturalized players in a systematic way,” an unnamed executive told L’Equipe. “But we have a duty to explore all possibilities. In this case, we were asked, we looked at it and quickly established that it was not a question.”

The French national team will have to make seven cuts and set a 12-man roster for this July’s event.

Here are a few more updates related to the 2024 Olympics:

  • The Australian national team has trimmed its preliminary Olympic roster from 22 players to 17, the Boomers announced in a press release. None of the NBA players on the roster – including Josh Giddey, Joe Ingles, Patty Mills, Dante Exum, Matisse Thybulle, and Dyson Daniels, among others – were among the cuts, but potential 2024 first-round pick Johnny Furphy was. The plan is for those 17 Australian players to attend training camp this summer before setting the final 12-man roster.
  • The German national team announced this week that head coach Gordon Herbert won’t continue on in that role after the conclusion of the Paris Olympics (hat tip to Sportando). The two sides are going their separate ways after a fruitful partnership that included a gold medal at the 2023 FIBA World Cup.
  • The Brazilian national team has announced its preliminary roster for this summer’s Olympic qualifying tournament in Latvia. The notable names include veteran point guard Raul Neto, former first-round pick Bruno Caboclo, Warriors rookie Gui Santos, and former NBA guard Didi Louzada. The Brazilians will need to win the six-team qualifier to earn a spot in the Olympic men’s basketball tournament.

Knicks Notes: Robinson, Anunoby, Randle, Brunson, Hart, More

Knicks center Mitchell Robinson appears to be nearing a return from the ankle injury that has sidelined him since early December, writes Tim Bontemps of ESPN. Head coach Tom Thibodeau spoke to reporters before Monday’s victory over Denver and provided a positive update on Robinson’s progress.

“Mitchell is moving quite well,” Thibodeau said. “He’s cleared for contact and all that. He’s going through practices and so just needs a little more time. But he’s doing really well overall.”

Forward OG Anunoby participated in parts of Monday’s shootaround, while Julius Randle (shoulder) continues to do controlled contact work but has yet to be cleared for live contact drills. Given that the reports on Anunoby and Randle were more mixed than the one on Robinson, a reporter asked Thibodeau if the center will be the first of the three players to return.

“Assuming your assumption is correct, yes,” Thibodeau cryptically replied.

Here’s more on the Knicks:

  • Jalen Brunson has now played in 65 games this season, ensuring that he’ll be eligible for end-of-season awards such as All-NBA. As Bobby Marks of ESPN tweets, Brunson can’t qualify for a super-max contract since he signed with the Knicks as a free agent, but he’ll be eligible this July to sign an extension that could be worth up to $156.5MM over four years.
  • As effective as Josh Hart has been for the Knicks this season, he has become an unreliable three-point shooter, making only 30.4% of his long-distance attempts this season after hitting 35.0% in his first six NBA seasons. According to Peter Botte of The New York Post, Hart and his former Pelicans teammate JJ Redick have already made plans to work this offseason on Hart’s outside shot. “At some point in the summer I’ll pull up to the Hamptons,” the Knicks wing said on Monday. “Shoot, get in the gym with him. Drink wine with him. He can bring all the wine. Because he’s rich. And just enjoy.”
  • Evan Fournier previously shared the Knicks’ franchise record for three-pointers in a game with 10, but saw that record erased on Monday when Donte DiVincenzo knocked down 11 treys against his Pistons. With 234 three-pointers in 2023/24, DiVincenzo is also poised to break Fournier’s record of 241 made threes in a season. “Not at all surprising, to be honest with you,” Fournier told Botte after the game. “He’s definitely found his role, and congrats to him. He has great chemistry with these guys, especially (Brunson), and he’s very smart as far as finding the pocket for a three and he has such a quick release. … He’s having a hell of a season and he deserves (the record). He’s honestly the perfect fit for how they play, and I am happy for him.”
  • Struggling guard Alec Burks sat out Monday’s game due to a sprained right shoulder, notes Stefan Bondy of The New York Post. It’s unclear how much Burks’ shoulder injury has factored into his shooting struggles since joining the Knicks. He’s shooting just 32.0% from the field since the trade deadline.

Atlantic Notes: Sixers, Harden, Knicks-Pistons Trade, DiVincenzo, Holiday

The Sixers‘ first meeting with James Harden since trading him to the Clippers last fall was relatively calm, but Wednesday’s rematch in Philadelphia will likely have a different atmosphere, writes Joe Vardon of The Athletic. Harden concentrated on play-making on Sunday afternoon, scoring 12 points and handing out 14 assists as the Sixers picked up a much-needed road victory. Harden left without speaking to reporters, but his former teammates said they’re happy that he appears to have found a positive situation in Los Angeles.

“James is a hell of a player and I’ll always have a huge amount of respect for him,” Tobias Harris said. “Playing with him here, it’s good to see him playing in L.A., flourishing and playing his game and just ballin’ out. It’s all love and respect. He’s a hall-of-fame player, and for me it was an honor being here, playing with him.”

Harden can expect a raucous reception when he returns to Philadelphia for the first time since a bitter contract dispute with Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey led him to demand a trade last summer. Haden launched repeated verbal attacks at Morey and disrupted training camp and the early part of the season before being traded to L.A. at the start of November.

Vardon adds that instead of being focused on Harden, the Sixers are concerned about their playoff prospects as they try to stay in the race for the sixth seed while Joel Embiid recovers from meniscus surgery.

“We know what the situation is,” Tyrese Maxey said. “We know we gotta go out there and fight. He’s not here, he’s not walking through those doors right now. What we have in this locker room, that’s who has to go out there and compete.”

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • The Knicks will host the Pistons tonight in a reminder of a trade that has turned out poorly for both teams so far, notes Stefan Bondy of The New York Post. New York hoped to bolster its shooting last month when it acquired Alec Burks and Bojan Bogdanovic from Detroit. However, they’ve both been disappointing, even with extra opportunities created by injuries to Julius Randle and OG Anunoby. For Detroit, Quentin Grimes has missed 15 of 21 games with a right knee injury he suffered when he was still with the Knicks. Evan Fournier has appeared in 19 straight games after being trapped on Tom Thibodeau’s bench, but he’s been in a severe shooting slump.
  • Donte DiVincenzo is nearing the Knicks‘ record for most three-pointers in a season, Bondy adds in a separate story. He’s 18 away from the mark of 241 that Fournier set two years ago. “I don’t think about it. Obviously I’m aware of it, but I don’t go into the game going, ‘How many do I need?’” DiVincenzo said. “That’s for you guys to talk about, that’s for everybody else to have fun with. But when you start doing that — there’s basketball karma, basketball gods. That’s not something [I want to mess with].”
  • Celtics guard Jrue Holiday explained the shoulder issue that will cause him to miss his fourth straight game tonight, tweets Jared Weiss of The Athletic. “Not a dead arm. I got hit on my shoulder and it felt like my arm went dead,” Holiday said. “But it’s not a nerve thing or anything. It’s just the part of the shoulder that I got hit in. But my shoulder is fine.

Eastern Notes: Hunter, Pistons’ Draft, Fournier, Suggs

The Hawks have won six of their last 11 games despite the absence of Trae Young and some other key players. De’Andre Hunter has played a major role in keeping the Hawks afloat while they’re shorthanded. In the last 11 games, Hunter is averaging 16.9 points on 50.4% shooting from the field and 43.9% from beyond the arc, The Athletic’s Law Murray notes.

“He’s playing really well,” Hawks head coach Quin Snyder said. “We just want him really on offense just to attack, to be in attack mode. And he’s embraced that. And he’s a fun guy to coach and a heck of a player.”

Hunter has been the subject of trade rumors for the past year, but the Hawks are in position to keep him long-term if they so choose — he’s under contract through the 2026/27 season on a deal that will pay him nearly $70MM over the next three years.

We have more from the Eastern Conference:

  • There are no surefire stars in this year’s draft but Pistons fans need something to focus on besides the team’s poor record. The Athletic’s James Edwards III takes a look at seven prospects participating in the NCAA Tournament who might interest Detroit’s front office, including Colorado’s Cody Williams, UConn’s Stephon Castle and Duke’s Kyle Filipowski.
  • Pistons guard Evan Fournier has been fined $25K for kicking the game ball into the spectator stands on Sunday, the NBA announced (via Twitter). Fournier was frustrated when the Heat’s Bam Adebayo hit a game-winning 30-foot shot in the Pistons’ 104-101 loss.
  • Magic coach Jamahl Mosley believes Jalen Suggs should be heavily considered for the NBA’s All-Defensive Team, Jason Beede of the Orlando Sentinel tweets. “When Jalen is healthy and he’s good to go, he is a first-team All-Defensive player,”  Mosley said. “He cares and wants to defend.” Suggs will be eligible for a rookie scale extension after the season.

Pistons Notes: Fontecchio, Fournier, Draft, Thompson

Simone Fontecchio has made an immediate impact since the Pistons acquired him from Utah at the trade deadline, writes Omari Sankofa II of The Detroit Free Press. The second-year small forward is averaging 15.0 PPG in his first 10 games with Detroit while connecting at 41.5% from three-point range. He has quickly earned the trust of coach Monty Williams, playing the entire fourth quarter Tuesday at Miami while contributing 22 points off the bench.

“I love the way he plays the game,” Williams said. “You talk about the offense, I thought his defense was rock-solid tonight. He doesn’t back away from a matchup. He’s not a guy that we have to worry about keeping in coverage, so he doesn’t have to guard a prime-time guy. He guards everybody. His ability to knock down shots, attack the paint, he’s an efficient passer. He’s been a great asset to our program and somebody we believe in going forward.”

Fontecchio will be a restricted free agent this summer, and Sankofa expects re-signing him to be a priority for a Detroit team that has lacked both shooting and defense. He had 20 points and nine rebounds in his first game with the Pistons, even though he hadn’t been through a practice or shootaround with the team. Williams inserted him into the starting lineup for a while, but moved him back to the bench when Isaiah Stewart returned from an injury and suspension.

“Honestly the more I play, the more I’m happy,” Fontecchio said. “As I said, I’m ready to do whatever to help the team, to help the second unit too. We’ve got a lot of young guys coming in from the second unit. Want to be a leader for them and help them play the right way.”

There’s more from Detroit:

  • Acquired from New York at the trade deadline, Evan Fournier brings an outsider’s perspective to the Pistons, Sankofa notes in a separate story. The veteran shooting guard said the collection of young talent reminds him of when he started his career in Orlando. “I was in this position my first year with the Magic,” he said. “We were a very young team, very inexperienced. Unfortunately you have to go through that to learn, because winning in this league is extremely hard. And I’m not talking about winning it all. I’m talking about winning one game. It’s extremely hard. Nowadays the level of skill and shooting on the floor is higher than ever, so there’s less room for mistakes.”
  • With no clear No. 1 pick in this year’s class, Sankofa breaks down Detroit’s draft options in an appearance on The Pistons Pulse podcast.
  • Ausar Thompson hasn’t been able to erase the doubts about his outside shooting in his rookie season, observes James L. Edwards of The Athletic. While Thompson’s mid-range offense has become reliable, he’s only shooting 18.3% from long distance. “When it comes to the mid-range shot, it’s my ability to repeat the same shot every time. I get surprised when I miss mid-range shots,” Thompson said. “With threes, I’m getting there. I just have to remain disciplined to shoot the same shot every time. That’s my biggest problem.”

Pistons Notes: Fournier, Grimes, Umude, Draft, Offseason

Evan Fournier seemed to be a potential buyout candidate when he was traded from the Knicks to the Pistons. However, Marc Stein reports in his latest Substack post that all signs point to Fournier remaining on Detroit’s roster for the rest of the season.

Players must be waived by Friday afternoon to become playoff eligible with his next team. Fournier has appeared in four games with the Pistons, one more than he did with the Knicks this season, averaging 11.5 points in 21.5 minutes with his current club.

We have more on the Pistons:

  • Detroit’s game against the Knicks on Monday night features two former New York players — Fournier and Quentin Grimes — and two former Pistons — Bojan Bogdanovic and Alec Burks — who were dealt for each other at this month’s deadline. Grimes admitted during Detroit’s shootaround he was jacked up for the contest. “I really don’t look at it like, ‘Oh, I got to go off or something,’” Grimes told Stefan Bondy of the New York Post. “But you do get a little extra oomph when you wake up and try to go off against a team that traded you.” Grimes lost his starting spot prior to getting traded and knew he wasn’t long for New York. “I knew it was going to happen. I didn’t know it would be Detroit. It was a few teams,” he said. “But I knew it was going to happen, for sure.”
  • Stanley Umude‘s two-year contract includes a team option for next season, Michael Scotto of HoopsHype tweets. Umude had his two-way contract converted to a standard, minimum-salary deal last week.
  • This year’s draft doesn’t have any surefire stars but the Pistons will have a high lottery pick again. Omari Sankofa II of the Detroit Free Press takes a look at eight potential lottery picks and considers how they might fit in with the team’s core players.
  • The additions of wings Grimes and Simone Fontecchio will allow the front office to concentrate the Pistons’ resources on one or two high-value targets with their cap space this summer, rather than spreading money around to cover multiple needs, Keith Langlois of Pistons.com writes.
  • In case you missed it, rookie guard Marcus Sasser will be sidelined at least a week due to a right knee contusion.

Central Notes: Cavaliers, Strus, Lillard, Haliburton

With an established rotation already in place, the chances of the Cavaliers adding help in the buyout market are “incredibly low,” according to Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com (subscription required). The recent returns from injury by Darius Garland and Evan Mobley have given the team a healthy roster, leaving no obvious role for a buyout player to fill. Sources tell Fedor that the front office is being honest with prospective additions about the shortage of available playing time.

Many of the top names on the market — such as Kyle Lowry, Spencer Dinwiddie and Delon Wright — have already committed to other teams. Fedor hears that Cleveland had interest in Danilo Gallinari, but the veteran forward chose Milwaukee, where he’ll have a better shot at regular minutes. Marcus Morris appears unlikely to land with the Cavs since he’s reportedly leaning toward the Timberwolves if the Spurs buy him out, according to former teammate Patrick Beverley (Twitter link).

Fedor says Cleveland would like to add one more shooter off its bench, which makes former Net Joe Harris and ex-Sixer Furkan Korkmaz intriguing names to watch. The Cavaliers have liked Korkmaz for a long time and made an effort to sign him in free agency in 2021, according to Fedor. He also mentions Davis Bertans and Seth Curry as options if they agree to buyouts with the Hornets and considers the PistonsEvan Fournier as a more remote possibility.

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • The Cavaliers are committed to Max Strus as a starter and are unlikely to shake up their starting five before the end of the season, Fedor adds in the same piece. The team pursued Strus last summer to provide improved shooting and floor spacing, and Fedor notes that he requires constant attention from opposing defenses, even though his shooting numbers have declined. Fedor also points out that coach J.B. Bickerstaff wants a longer look at his current starting lineup, which has been limited to 239 total minutes together because of injuries.
  • Bucks guard Damian Lillard doesn’t bring much strategy to the Three-Point Contest, which he won for the second straight year Saturday night, writes Eric Nehm of The Athletic. “I didn’t prepare at all,” Lillard said. “I think that’s the key to it. I kept telling (teammate Malik Beasley) my first two times I did it, I was practicing, I had racks, I was trying to get ready for it and I just went out there and I didn’t win. And then last year, I never practiced. I never shot off a rack. I just showed up and won.”
  • Pacers guard Tyrese Haliburton plans to keep trying for a three-point title after a close call on his home court, per Dustin Dopirak of The Indianapolis Star. Haliburton was in a four-way deadlock for the best score after the first round, but he lost in a tie-breaker and failed to reach the finals. “I think I’m going to just keep coming back until they don’t allow me to, and eventually I’m going to win one,” he said.

Buyout Market Rumors: Fournier, Wright, Bertans, Young, Gallinari

After spending the better part of the last two seasons on the bench in New York, Evan Fournier was traded from the Knicks to the Pistons as a salary-matching piece in the deadline-day deal that sent Bojan Bogdanovic and Alec Burks out of Detroit. Given that Fournier isn’t owed any guaranteed money beyond this season and the Pistons have the NBA’s worst record, he has been viewed as a buyout candidate.

However, according to Michael Scotto of HoopsHype, the Pistons have indicated that they plan to hang onto Fournier, so barring an unexpected development, he won’t reach the buyout market in the coming days or weeks.

Fournier, who appeared in just three games for the Knicks prior to last week’s trade, has logged over 25 minutes per night in his first two games as a Piston, averaging 11.5 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 1.5 steals.

Here are a few more notes and rumors on the buyout market from Scotto:

  • After averaging about 15 minutes per contest in his first 29 appearances in Washington this season, Delon Wright hasn’t played more than seven minutes in any of the four games since the trade deadline. A number of playoff contenders, including the Suns, are keeping on eye on the situation to see if the Wizards guard – who is on an expiring contact – will be bought out, Scotto writes.
  • Veteran sharpshooter Davis Bertans has played double-digit minutes off the bench in each of his first three games with the Hornets and appears unlikely to be let go in the immediate future, per Scotto. Bertans’ $16MM salary for 2024/25 is partially guaranteed for $5.25MM next season, which is one reason why Charlotte may wait until the summer to make any move involving him.
  • Thaddeus Young is expected to complete his deal with the Suns after the All-Star break next week, says Scotto, adding that the veteran forward also drew interest from the Sixers, Pelicans, and Celtics before agreeing to sign in Phoenix.
  • Although the Suns had interest in Danilo Gallinari, they were out of the mix for the forward after agreeing to sign Young, Scotto notes. Since the Cavaliers couldn’t guarantee Gallinari the kind of role he sought and the Bulls aren’t a legitimate title contender, Gallinari’s decision ultimately came down to the Clippers and Bucks. He chose Milwaukee after debating the two options for a few days, according to Scotto.

Central Notes: Fournier, Grimes, Bucks, Carter

Evan Fournier is glad for the change of scenery, even though he isn’t sure whether he’ll have a role with the Pistons. Fournier was languishing on the Knicks‘ bench before getting dealt to Detroit a week ago.

“I’m really excited to finally be out of New York,” he said (video link from James Edwards III of The Athletic). “As soon as I got traded they called me and said they’ve been trying to have me for the last couple of seasons now, so I’m looking forward to the opportunity.”

Fournier’s contract includes a $19MM club option for next season, which almost certainly will be declined. He hopes to show what he has to offer before the end of this season.

“I don’t know what my role is, but I’m just going to be myself and prepare as if I’m going to play,” he said. “I have to get to know the guys still, but if I can help them with what I see then I’ll gladly do it.”

We have more from the Central Division:

  • There’s little doubt that Quentin Grimes, who was also included in the same trade, will have a rotation role with the Pistons, though he’s dealing with a knee sprain and won’t make his Detroit debut until after the All-Star break. “I’ve always felt like he’s one of those guys who’s trying to find that consistent path, but he has a skill set and body type that fits the way we want to play,” coach Monty Williams said, per Mike Curtis of the Detroit News. “He can shoot the ball. He’s got a big body, so defensively, he can switch and guard the way that we like to. I think there’s a lot more in his game. We want to try to figure that out.”
  • The Bucks defeated the Nuggets 112-95 on Monday, marking the second consecutive game they have held an opponent under 100 points. It’s the first time the Bucks have pulled that off in the regular season since November 2021. Giannis Antetokounmpo said the coaching change from Adrian Griffin to Doc Rivers has made a difference. “Coach Doc is holding us to a high standard,” the Bucks superstar said. “He wants us to defend. He doesn’t take lack of effort as an excuse. If you’re on the floor, you’ve got to do your best.”
  • The Bulls signed guard Jevon Carter to a three-year, $19.5MM contract last summer but he’s played a much smaller role than anticipated, K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago notes. “They don’t really have too much to say about it,” Carter said of the coaching staff’s reasons for not playing him more often. “It’s just the NBA. That’s how it goes. All I can do is keep working and be ready for whenever my name is called. And that’s what I’m going to do.” Carter has appeared in 51 games off the bench, averaging 13.8 minutes per night. He averaged 22.4 MPG while playing 81 regular season games with Milwaukee last season.

Pistons Owner Expresses Support For GM Troy Weaver

Pistons owner Tom Gores expressed confidence in general manager Troy Weaver during a session with reporters Saturday afternoon in Los Angeles, writes Omari Sankofa II of The Detroit Free Press. There has been speculation that Weaver may be replaced amid a historically bad start to the season, but Gores didn’t provide any indication that he’s considering such a move.

“I think we just came together and the first thing we did is take accountability for the mistakes we made,” Gores responded when asked about Weaver. “As an organization, you really can’t go forward until you acknowledge what didn’t work. That was the first thing. And being honest about that provides you the future. If you don’t look in your past for a little bit and what was right and what was wrong, it’s very hard to go to the future. We did that along the process. I have confidence in Troy. I have confidence. We leaned on each other through this process, but we also didn’t avoid the idea of what were we accountable for? It gave us a pathway to go forward.”

The Pistons still have the league’s worst record at 8-44 after losing to the Clippers today, but Sankofa points out that they have been more competitive recently, going 5-8 since acquiring Mike Muscala and the recently waived Danilo Gallinari from Washington last month. The roster shakeup continued at Thursday’s deadline as Detroit added six new players — Simone Fontecchio, Troy Brown Jr., Shake Milton, Quentin Grimes, Evan Fournier and Malachi Flynn — while parting with veteran shooters Bojan Bogdanovic and Alec Burks, among others.

“We needed to mix up our formation,” Gores explained. “We had to let a few of our players go, all good men. Bojan and Burks contributed a lot to our Pistons. We just needed to change it up a bit and create some more pace-and-space for our young guys. As you know from Troy, we were at it working all last week, so we just needed to, for the sake of the team, let the young guys fly free.”

Today marked Gores’ first public comments on the team since late December when he promised fans that changes were going to be made. In today’s media session, Gores told reporters that he was involved in the process “almost every day.”

“The first month after that, I did a lot of it on a couple days of Zooms and calls and all that stuff,” Gores said. “Over the last 10 days, the team will tell you, Troy will tell you, we had a lot of all-nighters and up really late just making sure we make the right decision for this team. It’s a pivotal moment and you have to know when it’s pivotal. For us, it was important to get the right makeup and I thought we made pretty good moves. We also have a lot of cap space now in the summer, and we gained some good players.”

Gores added that he learned a lot about coach Monty Williams and people throughout the organization by watching how they responded in difficult times. He also indicated that several of Thursday’s additions could be in the Pistons’ long-term plans.

“This is just the beginning, and it’s our responsibility to do this,” Gores said. “We have to learn from what didn’t work, so we have to take that forward now. As I told the team and front office and everyone else that if we don’t win from our losses, then what are we doing? We have to be better because of our losses, and that’s our opportunity.”