It was not a stellar first season with the Knicks for shooting guard Evan Fournier, but he remains more of a star in his home country, France, than in the NBA. With the national team preparing to compete in the 2022 EuroBasket tournament next month, Fournier was given the group’s highest home: he was named captain.
Rudy Gobert, the former Jazz star traded to Minnesota last month, was named vice-captain. The French team’s Twitter account sent out notification ahead of the debut Eurobasket prep, writing, in French, “Two leaders. A captain and a vice-captain. Evan Fournier is the new captain of the Blues, Rudy Gobert is vice-captain.”
Fournier will be making his 81st national team appearance this summer, according to Newsrnd.com. That is second on the French side, behind Thomas Heurtel, who has 84. He will take over as captain from Nicolas Batum, who is stepping away from the national team after having struggled in last year’s Olympics.
Fournier Led France to Olympic Silver
Fournier, though, was excellent for France in last year’s Olympics and finished eighth in the tournament in scoring, at 18.7 points. He shot 45.5% from the floor and 37.8% from the 3-point line in six games, with France earning a silver medal following its loss to the U.S. in the championship game.
He has staked much on the team’s ability to compete in Eurobasket this season. In May, he told FIBA.com:
I am so hungry for this, like so hungry. That’s one of the goals I have in my career and I want to bring so many gold medals and titles back home, you can’t even imagine. When you play for your country, you compete at your best level and you want to bring joy to the fans and to your team.
Last summer was very nice to win a silver medal, but I also think about the joy that it would be to win a title and to get the gold medal. It’s the ‘summum’, the cherry on top of the cake. I am 29 years old, and I want to experience this multiple times before the end of my career. That’s also why I come every summer to play for the national team.
France has already begun its pre-tournament warmups, beating the Netherlands on Sunday behind 15 points in 16 minutes from Fournier. They will play Italy in Bologna on Friday.
Fournier Could Be Knicks Trade Bait
Fournier had his struggles in his first season with the Knicks, though he ended up with a very respectable 3-point percentage of 38.9%, which was the main reason the Knicks brought him in last season. He scored 14.1 points per game and if there was a hole in his game last year, it was his inability to score from places other than the 3-point line.
Fournier shot 46.5% on 2-pointers, worst since his second season in the NBA, in 2013-14. He made only 40.5% of his shots in the paint.
Fournier was signed to a four-year, $78 million free-agent contract last season, and was expected to help boost the Knicks into contention in the Eastern Conference. But New York finished 37-45 and failed to even qualify for a play-in spot.
This summer, Fournier has been the subject of trade rumors, as the Knicks would likely have to include Fournier’s salary to make a blockbuster for a player like Utah’s Donovan Mitchell, who has been in constant Knicks trade rumors.