Knicks Could Trade Evan Fournier for Trusty 3&D Wing

Tom Thibodeau, New York Knicks

Getty Head coach Tom Thibodeau of the New York Knicks yells to his players during the first quarter of Game Two of the Eastern Conference First Round Playoffs against the Cleveland Cavaliers.

With their savvy free agency moves and the trading of Obi Toppin now in the rearview, the main objective for this New York Knicks team is all but certain to be finding a taker for the remaining two years of Evan Fournier’s $73 million deal.

Rumblings suggest the San Antonio Spurs are a team to watch in a potential trade pursuit for the veteran swingman and, on July 28, Bleacher Report’s Grant Hughes constructed a new trade idea that would send him down to the Alamo City.

New York Knicks receive: Reggie Bullock

San Antonio Spurs receive: Evan Fournier, 2024 second-round pick (via UTA or CLE), 2024 second-round pick (via DET)

Citing New York’s eagerness to move on from Fournier, particularly now since he publicly blasted the team during a recent interview with France’s L’Équipe, Hughes suggests sending him to the Spurs in exchange for one of Tom Thibodeau’s favorite three-and-D wings, Reggie Bullock.

“In a best-case scenario, San Antonio pockets a few second-rounders to take on Fournier, rehabs his value and flips him for another pick at the deadline. His $19.0 million team option for 2024-25 means the Spurs could also just let him walk a year from now with no further obligation,” Hughes wrote.

“The Knicks would be getting an even better shooter in Bullock (38.4 percent on treys for his career) with only one season left on his contract. It’s also easier to imagine head coach Tom Thibodeau using Bullock in the rotation due to his superior perimeter defense. Fournier’s frailty on that end of the floor landed him on the bench in 2022-23.”

Prior to landing in San Antonio this summer, Reggie Bullock spent two seasons with the Knicks from 2019 through 2021 and quickly became a beloved commodity within Thibodeau’s rotation, posting averages of 10.0 points, 3.1 rebounds, and 1.5 assists on 39.3 percent shooting from deep while boasting an impressive defensive rating of 112.

Stephen A. Smith Urges Knicks to Pursue Damian Lillard

Though trading Evan Fournier may be one of the club’s clear top objectives moving forward, ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith believes the Knicks should strongly consider setting their sights on pursuing Damian Lillard on the trade market this summer, and suggests the Frenchman’s contract could be used in such an exchange.

“Did you know that the New York Knicks have 11 picks between now and the year 2030? Did you know that seven of those first-round picks are their own? Did you know that they’re available [and that] they could trade eight picks. Now it won’t take that much, but they can afford to give up three or four picks, plus an RJ Barrett, plus an Evan Fournier,” Smith said.

“You trade RJ Barrett, you trade Evan Fournier, you trade [Quentin] Grimes. I don’t want to give up [Immanuel] Quickley, but if I have to I would for [Lillard], but I don’t want to give him up. You give up those three players and about three to four picks. The Portland Trail Blazer cannot possibly argue that that’s not enough assets.”

The ESPN personality would continue to pitch the concept of Lillard landing with the Knicks, suggesting that the attention he would garner while being in such a big market would be well deserved and long overdue.

“Just imagine while you’re sitting there and showing everybody that you’re the greatest shooter from the point guard position in the world this side of Stephen Curry, when you’re pulling up damn near from half court, when you’re sitting there and you’re telling New York City ‘Dame time, Dame time,’ and by the way you’re waving goodbye to opponents, imagine how that would go over in the Mecca which is New York City.”

Damian Lillard has been a name heavily covered in the news cycle this summer following his trade request made back in early July.

RJ Barrett Deemed ‘Weakest Link’ on Knicks

When looking at this Knicks rotation heading into 2023-24, it’s hard to argue that they aren’t one of the most well-rounded clubs in the Eastern Conference and, frankly, the association as a whole.

However, even the best teams possess some glaring frailties within their arsenal and, as far as New York’s starting five is concerned, Bleacher Report’s Andy Bailey believes their weakest link to be RJ Barrett.

“In 2020-21, his second season, he looked like a promising three-and-D wing who might be able to create a bit for others. But he’s been nightmarishly inefficient over the two seasons since then. He’s scored a whopping 299.1 fewer points than a perfectly average shooter would have on his attempts over that stretch.

“He doesn’t get to the free-throw line near enough to make up for that, and his defense isn’t really moving the needle either. Since the start of 2021-22, the New York Knicks are minus-1.7 points per 100 possessions with Barrett on the floor and plus-7.3 without him,” Bailey wrote.

RJ Barrett finds himself coming off of his fourth year with the Knicks boasting solid on-paper averages of 19.6 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 2.8 assists, though proved to be highly inefficient, particularly on the offensive end, sporting shooting clips of just 43.4 percent from the field and 31.0 percent from distance.

Read More