NBA Teams Urged to Avoid Celtics’ ‘Toughest Free Agency Decision’

NBA teams urged to avoid Evan Fournier in free agency

Getty Celtics wing Evan Fournier.

Danny Ainge has been pretty clear that the Boston Celtics didn’t trade for Evan Fournier at the deadline for him to simply serve as a rental piece. Yes, the 6-foot-7-inch, 205-pound wing has struggled to get his feet under him since arriving in Beantown — mainly due to a strenuous battle with COVID-19. Still, he offers the type of floor-spacing ability that would likely intrigue a plethora of suitors were he allowed to hit the open market.

With that said, while Fournier’s skillset would theoretically serve as an added bonus to any playoff contender, Bleacher Report’s Mandela Namaste has warned NBA teams to tread carefully this summer. Should the Cs follow suit?

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Fournier Ranks Among Tempting Free Agents Teams Should Avoid

“Boston is particularly well-suited to take advantage of Fournier’s skill set, highlighting his strengths as a scorer while minimizing weaknesses thanks to the presence of Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Kemba Walker,” wrote Namaste.

“Other franchises around the NBA without such pedigreed offensive talent might see Fournier’s years of big counting stats with the Orlando Magic and contribution to a competitive Celtics team and then overpay him,” he added.

Fournier enjoyed a brilliant 21-point outing this past Sunday. Yet, since joining the Celtics, he has appeared in just 10 games while his production has essentially plummeted across the board. A near 20.0 ppg scorer with the Magic earlier this season, the 28-year-old is averaging just 9.0 ppg on 37.6% shooting from the field since joining the Cs — he averaged 45.2% over the entirety of his Magic tenure.

Namaste questions whether or not Fournier can truly elevate a roster that places too much responsibility on his shoulders.

“Can Fournier ever contribute to winning? Sure,” he proclaimed. “With better teammates around him in Boston, he’s likely to rate more favorably in player impact stats. But don’t expect to compete for anything significant with him as a main offensive engine.”

Fournier Destined to Stay Put in Boston?

The Celtics have north of $132 million wrapped up in guaranteed money for the 2021-22 season. They could theoretically look to shuffle their roster in hopes of upgrading upon Fournier as a fourth scoring option. Yet, realistically the payroll likely limits the team’s reach when it comes to adding upper-echelon talent.

“In a way, Boston has already committed to re-signing Fournier, since it has $132.3 million on next season’s payroll and therefore wouldn’t have an easy method of replacing him,” B/R’s Zach Buckley noted, who dubbed Fournier future as Boston’s toughest free agency decision. “But he’s off to a slow start with the Celtics (perhaps due to lingering symptoms from COVID-19), so it’s fair to assume even a plan to re-sign him would include a walk-away price point.”

It’s clear Fournier hasn’t lived up to expectations thus far and while he still has a chance to prove his worth down the stretch, his fate in Boston has more than likely already been sealed.  

“We don’t acquire Evan with the idea that he’ll be with us just for this year,” Ainge said of Fournier following the trade, via NBC Sports Boston. “We acquire him the with idea he could be here potentially for a long time, like all the players we acquire.”

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