Knicks’ Evan Fournier Ends World Cup Stint in a Whimper

Evan Fournier, France, Knicks

Getty Head Coach Vincent Collet of France talks to Evan Fournier #10.

New York Knicks guard Evan Fournier was held to two points again in France’s tough 87-77 victory against Cote d’Ivoire over the weekend to finish 17th in the 2023 FIBA World Cup.

It was his second straight two-point performance after averaging 21.6 points in France’s first three games.

Against Cote d’Ivoire, Fournier’s points came only at the free throw line as he missed all of his four field goal attempts. He was a team-worst minus-11 despite grabbing six rebounds and adding one steal and a block. He also committed two turnovers in 17 minutes.

France coach Vincent Collet rued his team’s lack of defensive effort as they only pulled the win in the final two minutes against an inferior but more energetic Cote d’Ivoire team.

“Defense starts with energy,” Collet said after the game. “First, okay, you must be organized, but the main thing is a will, and to be honest, our will was not very high this [Saturday] afternoon, so that’s why we are happy to finally find a way to win this game.”

A jumper from Assemian Moulare gave Cote d’Ivoire a 75-74 lead with 3:01 left. An Isaia Cordinier layup triggered a 13-2 finishing run for France in the final 2:38 to salvage the highest position among the teams that did not make it to the second round. 

Their porous defense killed France’s chances at this World Cup with an aging core built around their longtime mainstays, already in their 30s. The 27-year-old Guerschon Yabusele is the only French player under 30 who was among their top five in minutes played.

Despite playing below-par in his final two games, the 30-year-old Fournier still wound up as France’s leading scorer with 13.8 points per game. Their 31-year-old defensive anchor, Rudy Gobert, led them in rebounding (8.3) and blocks (1.8).

“It’s difficult to analyze just now,” Collet said, “but obviously, the first two games, we gave 90 points [on the] average between Latvia and Canada, and for sure, it’s not at all what we are used to doing [in the last] 10, 15 years.”

What’s Next For Evan Fournier?

After a disappointing World Cup run, Fournier returns to facing the harsh reality of a waning NBA career. His future continues to hang in the balance as he remains with the Knicks despite their attempt to trade him this offseason.

“As you know, it’s not in my hands. If the Knicks want to keep me, I’ll have to stay. If they want to trade me, I’ll have to go,” Fournier told Eurohoops last week.

Before the World Cup, Fournier had a tell-all interview with French news outlet L’Equipe in July and told them that another season with the Knicks could wreck his NBA career.

“I would be shot [if I stay],” Fournier told L’Equipe. “I’m going to be traded, it’s not possible otherwise. Or I’d be stuck, and so would they. They have several players with big contracts coming in. Unless they want to pay a crazy luxury tax… If I stayed, it would be a disaster basketball-wise for my career. I can manage a year without playing. Two… that would be terrible.”

Jalen Brunson Takes Blame for Team USA’s First Loss

Knicks star point guard Jalen Brunson took the brunt of the blame for Team USA’s first loss in the 2023 FIBA World Cup 110-104 at the hands of Lithuania on Sunday at the Mall of Asia Arena.

“[Lithuania] executed their game plan and we just started too slow,” Brunson said after the loss. “We played way better in the second half and waited too long to come to play. That’s on me. I have to come ready to play. I have to have everyone else ready to play. Respect to them, they played great.”

Brunson finished with 14 points and seven assists with four rebounds and one steal, but their lackadaisical start, which saw them trailed 31-12 in the first quarter, doomed them.

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