The New York Knicks didn’t make many big moves in free agency, but instead largely chose to bring back their own players.
With Derrick Rose, Nerlens Noel and Alec Burks all returning to the team on bigger contracts, the Knicks didn’t have as much flexibility as they once thought. However, that didn’t stop them from luring away a key player from the Boston Celtics.
A mid-season trade brought Evan Fournier from the Orlando Magic to the Celtics, and while the plan was to keep him, things didn’t play out that way.
Instead, the Knicks were able to swoop in and sign away the sharpshooter with a four-year, $78 million deal.
Fournier Wanted to Stay With Celtics At First
Because the team specifically went after him, Fournier’s first inclination when free agency hit was to stay with the Celtics.
“That was my priority going into the summer,” he said according to the Boston Globe’s Gary Washburn. “I talked to [GM Brad Stevens] and we couldn’t get a deal done, obviously. I was more inclined to sign there because they traded for me.”
Things clearly didn’t go according to plan, and the Knicks were in search of an upgrade, especially when they later lost starter Reggie Bullock to the Dallas Mavericks.
The Knicks swooped in, offered Fournier a deal he couldn’t resist, and the rest is history. While money played a big factor in the decision, as is the case with many contracts in the NBA, the free agent guard saw a lot to like with the Knicks.
Why He Picked Knicks Over Celtics
In Washburn’s story with the Globe, Fournier reveals why the Knicks were the right spot for him.
“They had a really good season, they had a spot open and I thought I could really help them,” he said. “And yeah, it’s freakin’ New York. It’s fun. You want to be part of something big, have pressure. You want to be a guy that competes every night. I felt like New York was a great opportunity for me to live those big moments.”
For Knicks fans, this is refreshing to hear because after several high profile swings and misses from the team, it looks like New York is finally becoming a free agent destination.
While Fournier isn’t on the same level as a Kevin Durant or Kawhi Leonard, landing a player who wants to compete under the bright lights of New York City is a big accomplishment.
Whether the newly-signed guard will be enough to get the Knicks over the hump remains to be seen, but it looks like the Knicks plan on running it back with largely the same squad as before that got them home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
The Miami Heat were able to make a big splash in free agency by luring away Kyle Lowry from the Toronto Raptors, but it looks like many of the other teams in the Eastern Conference won’t be making earth-shattering moves. The Chicago Bulls did land Lonzo Ball and Alex Caruso, so they will be competing for a playoff spot this year.