Up until about a week back, Evan Fournier’s return to Beantown seemed like a near slam dunk. The Boston Globe’s Adam Himmelsbach reported in July that the Boston Celtics were feeling “better” about their chances of re-signing the sharpshooting wing following their trade of point guard Kemba Walker to the Oklahoma City Thunder. However, things quickly began to go downhill over the last week or so. The team reportedly balked at Fournier’s asking price, essentially stalling negotiations between both parties on the cusp of free agency, per Boston Herald’s Mark Murphy.
Ultimately, rumored interest between Fournier and the New York Knicks proved true, as the French Olympian jettisoned the Celtics for their Atlantic Division counterpart mere hours into free agency. However, as it turns out, had Fournier gotten his wish, he’d have stuck things out in Boston.
“That was my priority going into the summer,” Fournier told the Boston Globe’s Gary Washburn of wanting to remain with the Celtics. “Because I knew the place. I talked to Brad [Stevens] and we couldn’t get a deal done, obviously. But I had my options. It wasn’t necessarily Boston only, but I was more inclined to sign there because they traded for me and I felt good while I was there.”
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Jayson Tatum Reacts to Fournier to Knicks, Celtics Trades
Fournier’s exit from Boston is simply the latest in a flurry of Celtics moves that have gone down in recent days. Another notable name to punch a ticket out of town was starter Tristan Thompson, who was dealt to the Sacramento Kings in a three-team trade just prior to free agency.
While superstar Jayson Tatum hasn’t always been a fan of the constant turnover in NBA locker rooms, it’s something he’s learning to deal with.
“You always hate to see guys leave, especially guys you build a relationship with,” Tatum said after a Team USA victory against Spain on Tuesday morning, via Washburn. “I guess that’s the nature of it. As a player all you can do is show up for training camp and whoever is there is there and get ready to play.”
Fournier Excited for New Start
When the Celtics acquired Fournier at the deadline this past March, the idea was that he would be around for the long haul, serving as a third scoring option behind the All-Star duo of Tatum and Jaylen Brown. Former team president Danny Ainge insinuated as much when speaking to reports shortly after the trade with Orlando originally went down.
“I can’t talk about negotiations with impending free agents, sorry about that, but we hope to have Evan around just like other players we acquire,” Ainge noted, via NESN. “We hope to have him around for longer than just the remaining part of this year.”
Turns out, Fournier was nothing more than a half-year rental for a Celtics team that failed to escape the first round of the playoffs. Whether you want to chalk up the trade as a loss for Boston or not, there’s nothing left to do but move on. Having said that, Boston has been awfully quiet throughout the early stages of free agency as they look to keep financial flexibility intact for the long haul. If they continue down this path, look for newly-acquired Josh Richardson to be the player to inherit Fournier’s left-behind minutes in 2021.
As for Fournier, while he would have welcomed a return to Boston, he’s more than happy with his new digs.
“That’s the thing with free agency. It can go both ways,” Fournier told Washburn. “New York has been on my radar for a while now. And I’m honestly extremely happy I’ll be there next year.”
Of course, a four-year, $78 million contract (per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski) certainly doesn’t hurt.