These early stages of the 2022-23 campaign are certainly not going as hoped for the New York Knicks and, in turn, they find themselves scrambling for answers.
Through 14 games played the Knickerbockers boast a mere .500 record of 7-7 and have dropped six of their latest nine contests.
With this skid, head coach Tom Thibodeau has gone about and tinkered with his rotation to try and find a way to address some of the team’s most glaring issues and, in the process, veteran swingman Evan Fournier has ultimately found himself being demoted from a starting lineup mainstay to, most recently, a coach’s decision DNP.
While it may be easy to assume that a player in his position could feel a bit slighted and bitter about his downgrade within the rotation, according to a November 16 report by Newsday Sports beat reporter Steve Popper, it appears the 30-year-old holds no ill will towards his coach’s decision.
“I always try to put myself in other people’s shoes,” Fournier told Popper, via Twitter. “Thibs is trying to find a solution. I don’t think he made that decision because he don’t like me or anything like it’s a personal thing. He just wants to win, man.”
Just over a year into his lofty four-year, $73 million deal that he signed with the Knicks during the summer of 2021, the 11-year veteran finds himself relegated to a low-usage reserve role in New York which, while to some may be viewed as a bit harsh, when it comes to his production of late, it’s easy to see why Thibodeau opted to make the shift.
Fournier Has Been Bad for Knicks
After putting forth a solid season during his first year under contract with the Knicks, posting per-game averages of 14.1 points, 2.6 rebounds, and 2.1 assists on 38.9% shooting from deep while breaking the franchise’s single-season record for most made 3-pointers by an individual player, year two has already proven to be one to forget for Evan Fournier.
On the season so far the wing is posting mediocre averages of 6.9 points, 2.1 rebounds, and 1.7 assists per game on a mere 33.3% shooting from deep.
Despite coming into the year viewed as the clear frontrunner for the starting two-guard position, after the team’s seventh game of the early season against the Atlanta Hawks on November 2 Tom Thibodeau opted to pull Fournier from the first-five lineup and thrust him into a reserve role where he’s put up 2.7 points and 1.3 rebounds on 20% shooting from the floor ever since.
Though his counting stats alone are evidence that the high-priced veteran has been a lowly participant for the Knicks in 2022-23, when looking at his advanced stats it’s evident that such a notion becomes virtually inarguable as he boasts a net rating of -8.3 when on the floor while the team significantly improves by +3.2 when he’s been on the sidelines.
Knicks Could Trade Fournier to Contender
With his fading role within Tom Thibodeau’s rotation, many seem to believe that Evan Fournier’s days with the New York Knicks are numbered, and, on November 16, NBA writer Keith Smith went as far as to predict that the shooting guard will wind up being traded to a contender in need of shooting.
“Prediction: Just like when he was traded from Orlando to Boston, Fournier is going to be traded to a contender that needs some wing depth,” Smith wrote, via Twitter. “Seems like his time in New York has all but run its course already.”
Should the Knicks shop Fournier, an NBA executive recently told Heavy Sports’ NBA Insider Sean Deveney that the Minnesota Timberwolves, Los Angeles Lakers, and Toronto Raptors could all be good fits for the wing’s services.