Celtics Will ‘Likely Bite the Bullet’ on Veteran Starter, Says Analyst

Celtics predicted to retain Evan Fournier

Getty Evan Fournier #94 high fives Kemba Walker #8 of the Boston Celtics in the first half against the Miami Heat.

When the Boston Celtics acquired Evan Fournier at the NBA trade deadline in March, it was with the understanding that the 28-year-old sharpshooter was a long-term investment — despite being an impending free agent. Measuring in at 6 feet 7 inches tall and owning a career 37.9% 3-point shooting percentage, Fournier was the type of “shooter with size” that Danny Ainge had been clamoring for on the wing.

While the nine-year veteran’s arrival in Beantown certainly came with its fair share of bumps early on, from a rough battle with COVID-19 to early shooting woes, he found his footing late in the season. Fournier went on to shoot a superb 46.3% from beyond the arc with Cs, starting each of his final 15 games (regular season and playoffs) on the year and averaging 18.0 ppg over his final 12 contests.

However, since Boston’s first-round playoff exit, the organization has been turned somewhat upside down. After nearly two decades on the job, Ainge opted to retire, leading to head coach Brad Stevens trading in his clipboard for a seat in the front office. As Ainge admitted at his exit press conference, Stevens didn’t always see eye-to-eye with him on the roster decisions being made.

Could the addition of Fournier at the deadline have been one of those decisions that Stevens was not overall fond of? And if so, will he opt to move on from the veteran wing now that he’s calling the shots in Boston?

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Celtics Likely to Retain Fournier?

Thanks to potentially the largest payroll in franchise history, the Celtics are somewhat strapped for spending money this offseason. Any extensive external free agency shopping will almost certainly lead to a luxury-tax hit. Many expect Boston to explore unloading veteran mainstays such as Kemba Walker and Marcus Smart this offseason. In theory, such moves would help ease their cap restrictions, but Walker’s contract and Smart’s value to the team make the likelihood of either player being dealt far from a forgone conclusion. In return, Bleacher Report’s Zach Buckley envisions the Celtics keeping their spending internal.

“That could mean Boston’s biggest investments are made in-house. Evan Fournier, acquired from the Orlando Magic at the trade deadline, might be a top priority to re-sign,” Buckley wrote. “Once he was healthy enough to contribute, Fournier showed the impact he can make as a complementary scorer, shooter and playmaker. Even if the Celtics are confident [Kemba] Walker can get back to his old form — and that’s an enormous if — they need support pieces on offense. That’s why they got Fournier in the first place, and why they’ll likely bite the bullet to bring him back.”

Fournier’s Market Value

When weighing out whether or not keeping Fournier is in the best interest of the team, you have to take into consideration his market value — something that clearly varies on who you ask.

“He’s going to look for $15-20 million a year,” an NBA executive recently estimated when speaking to HoopsHype’s Michael Scotto. “I’m not sure where he gets that from. They’ll have to keep him since they can’t replace him. It’ll be interesting because they have never been willing to pay the tax, so getting around that will be hard for them. If they let him walk, there’s no replacement.”

“Fournier is a tough one,” another exec proclaimed. “It depends on the direction for that value. If they want to run it back, they’ll pay him. I can’t see him getting $20 million.”

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