Coming off their first playoff appearance in eight years, the New York Knicks ventured into the offseason with max cap space, promising young prospects and an All-NBA power forward. Instead of exploring possibilities through creative means after they were promptly dismissed in a quick five-game series, the Knicks’ front office decided to bring back most of their free agents (Derrick Rose, Alec Burks and Nerlens Noel) and add . . . Evan Fournier, who’s headed to New York on a four-year deal that could be worth as much as $78 million.
Last we saw Fournier, he struggled in Boston after a bout with COVID-19 that prevented him from establishing any type of rhythm on his new team. (He compared the disease’s effects to a concussion.) That said, he still shot 46.3% behind the arc, but was consistently hunted by Brooklyn in the playoffs. This contract has a team option on the fourth year, which is convenient for New York’s cap sheet, but it’s still unlikely Fournier is the type of difference maker New York should’ve added with all of the money it had to spend. (They essentially went from Reggie Bullock, who earned half as much from the Mavericks, to Fournier, which, even after accounting for the significant upgrade in shot creation is . . . not ideal.)
The Knicks still have a big question at point guard and will head into next season having exchanged one of their best perimeter defenders for a subpar one. (Though they may still be a candidate to trade for Kemba Walker, should they have any interest in boosting themselves in the short term.) Fournier will relieve some playmaking pressure off Julius Randle, RJ Barrett and Rose, who all contributed to New York’s 22nd-ranked offense last season.
But given the various holes on this roster and how serendipitous last year’s success feels after considering the conditions under which it occurred, the Knicks don’t seem to grasp who they are or what they need. This grade is less about Fournier as a player, and more about the organization’s lacking direction.