What was the Knicks’ mistake in managing Evan Fournier?

This week, veteran Knicks guard Evan Fournier expressed his displeasure with head coach Tom Thibodeau and his limited role with the Knicks in an interview with French media outlet L’Equipe.

“You want to spit on everyone. You have hate,” Fournier said. “ Derrick Rose and I looked at each other and were like, ‘What the hell are we doing here?’ During the five-on-five training, we were on the side like some prospects. Times weren’t cold. And when I realized it wasn’t going to change, I took things more slowly. I focused on myself and never let the rest touch me.

Fournier started the year as a starter but lost his job after just seven games. Six games later, he was placed on the bench.

Fournier is entering the third year of a four-year, $73 million deal he signed in the 2021 offseason, so the deal is essentially an expiring contract. He is making over $18 million for the 2023-24 season and the Knicks have a $19 million club option for the 2024-25 season.

The decision to bench Fournier was ultimately the right one.

Fournier’s souring relationship with Thibodeau is not an anomaly, it appears that several players from the Thibodeau era have been banned with no chance of returning to play.

Rose played a total of four minutes and 51 seconds in 2023. Cam Reddish has never played after the start of December. As mentioned above, Walker was on the bench and before that, Austin Rivers was in the doghouse during the 2020-21 season.

Ultimately, all of these rotation decisions were right and helped the Knicks in the long run.

He will certainly create some discomfort if Fournier returns to the squad next season, but his contract has been heralded as a potential key piece of a larger swap to acquire a star.

While Fournier wants a Knicks exit, it would make sense to keep the contract as long as possible considering other key players in a potential trade like Quickley or Grimes still have rookie contracts and would be too small to match a stellar player’s salary.