TORONTO — No matter how well he shot or played Sunday, Evan Fournier knew this much about replacing the injured Immanuel Quickley in the rotation:
“If Quick’s back the next game, I’m not playing,” he said. “So there’s no pressure at all, actually.”
Comfort in helplessness.
The next logical step is a trade by next month’s deadline, but the $18 million Fournier’s owed next season make it complicated. The Knicks may have to attach draft assets to unload Fournier, which they’ve reportedly been resistant to doing. It’s part of the hefty contract Fournier signed just 18 months ago as the Knicks’ big free agent of 2021.
Now he has to contemplate more DNPs if he’s not traded. His interests are competing right now.
“Best-case scenario, I want to stay here, I want to play here,” Fournier said. “I had a lot of different choices in free agency and I wanted to be a Knick. I love New York. I wanted to play for (Tom Thibodeau). So I’d love to stay. But I’d love to play.”
With Quickley’s sore knee flaring up before Sunday’s game, Thibodeau opted to re-insert Fournier into the rotation over other castoffs Derrick Rose and Cam Reddish. He showed rust. Fournier logged 21 minutes and missed 6 of his 9 shot attempts during his first action in 13 days. Earlier this season, Fournier went six weeks without playing.
“Could’ve been worse (Sunday),” he said. “Could’ve played a lot better.”
There’s a sense that a season of Fournier’s prime is being squandered.
“I’m 30. Nowadays it feels like I’m 35 because there’s not a lot of vets left. But I’m 30,” Fournier said. “I’m in the best shape of my career. I should be in my prime. I am in my prime. You want to play, for sure. Especially as a competitor. It’s not like I forgot how to play. Last year I had a different role and somehow I was able to break a 30-year-old franchise record. So I am going to find a way to adapt to any situation.”
When the Knicks are playing well, the benchings of Fournier, Rose and Reddish are afterthoughts. But when they’re struggling — like during their current four-game losing streak — it feels like talent and experience are being wasted.
Out of the three, Fournier has been Thibodeau’s first choice to crack the rotation if there’s an injured wing. Reddish hasn’t been an option at all — even in garbage time.
“He’s been in the rotation before. I like his size on the wing,” Thibodeau explained as to why he played Fournier. “The (Raptors) are big. So I thought a little more size might help. And the shooting piece, I knew they would play zone defense. That was the reason.”
Reddish is bigger than Fournier so this was clearly a reason for choosing Fournier over Rose, who hasn’t played since December. They’re all being shopped by the Knicks before the trade deadline.
“I’ve stopped paying attention to that, probably in year 5 (of my career),” Fournier said. “You’ve heard this numerous times, we don’t control those things. I’m not going to waste time. I’m going to take my usual nap and when I wake up, if my wife doesn’t wake me up, if I wake up and I’m traded, then I’m traded. It is what it is.”
Source: Berkshire mont
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