It’s widely believed that retaining Evan Fournier will be a top priority for the Boston Celtics this offseason — and understandably so. With that said, it looks as if an Eastern Conference rival may be planning to foil those plans.
The Philadelphia Inquirer’s Keith Pompey has reported that the New York Knicks will in fact pursue Fournier in free agency. The French guard, who recently erupted for 28 points in France’s stunning 83-76 upset of Team USA in the Tokyo Olympics, is expected to “ask for around $18 million per season,” per Pompey.
That salary number aligns with the rumored price point that has circulated Fournier over recent months. One anonymous NBA executive told HoopsHype back in June that he believes the guard will seek a deal between $15-20 million per year. Having said that, The Athletic’s John Hollinger pegs that number to be a bit too rich, as his salary formula projects Fournier to earn $12.5 million per year. For what it’s worth, Fournier made $17.5 million in 2020-21.
Whatever Fournier’s market price is, the Celtics — who are over the salary cap — are permitted to pay it if they so choose, as they own the Bird Rights to the unrestricted free agent.
The Boston-New York pathway could prove to be a two-way street for sharpshooting wings, as the Celtics have been linked as a potential landing spot for Knicks starter Reggie Bullock.
The latest Celtics news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Celtics newsletter here !
The last truly notable acquisition of Danny Ainge’s tenure in Beantown (sorry Jabari Parker), the 28-year-old swingman was acquired from the Orlando Magic for two second-round picks and Jeff Teague at the trade deadline. The initial return on Fournier was uneven to say the least, as he went 0-for-10 from the field in his first game as a Celtic. He followed that up by missing 11 of the next 14 games due to a grueling bout with COVID. With that said, Fournier began to settle in down the stretch, flaunting the shooting touch that Boston believed they were getting when they initially pulled the trigger on the deal.
A nearly 20.0 points per game scorer with the Magic earlier in the year, he did see his scoring output dip to 7.0 points over his 16 games with the Celtics. However, his efficiency from deep soared by 7.5%, knocking down an outstanding 46.3% of his shots from beyond the arc. Furthermore, when asked to shoulder more of a scoring load with teammate Jaylen Brown sidelined, he responded by scoring at least 16 points in four of the team’s five playoff games.
Celtics Like Their Chances of Keeping Fournier
The feeling in Boston is that with a full offseason in the building and the trade of Kemba Walker, Fournier should have both the comfort and freedom to improve upon his play, not only as a scorer but as a secondary ball-handler as well.
Speaking of trading Walker, the Boston Globe’s Adam Himmelsbach reported following the deal with the Oklahoma City Thunder that the Celtics “feel better about their chances of re-signing Fournier.”
While the optimism is good, let’s see how the organization feels about things once free agency officially kicks off on August 2nd.