Celtics

Celtics reportedly believe chances of re-signing Evan Fournier are better after Kemba Walker trade

Fournier will become an unrestricted free agent in August.

Kemba Walker is leaving Boston, but Evan Fournier might be sticking around. Kathryn Riley/Getty Images

While one guard departs from Boston, another might be staying around.

After trading Kemba Walker to the Thunder on Friday, the Celtics “feel better” and believe they’ll “have an easier time” re-signing Evan Fournier this offseason, the Boston Globe’s Adam Himmelsbach and the Boston Herald’s Mark Murphy reported.

An NBA executive told HoopsHype that he believes Fournier, who made $17.5 million this past season, will look for a deal that pays him $15-20 million per year. However, former NBA executive and The Athletic NBA writer John Hollinger’s salary formula projects Fournier will make $12.5 million per year.

By trading Walker’s $36 million salary for next season in exchange for Al Horford and Moses Brown, the Celtics saved roughly $8 million in salary for the 2021-22 season. Friday’s trade brought the Celtics below the $136.5 million luxury tax threshold for next season, with a little less than $8 million in luxury tax cap space now available.

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While the Celtics are roughly $16 million above the projected salary cap, they can re-sign Fournier because they hold his Bird rights.

The trade also dramatically lessened the salary burden for the Celtics for the 2022-23 season. As of Friday, just Jayson Tatum ($30.4 million salary), Jaylen Brown ($28.8 million salary), and Horford ($26.5 million salary) are under contract for that season – and only $14.5 million of Horford’s salary is guaranteed, making it more financially feasible to sign Fournier to a multi-year deal.

Fournier was originally acquired by the Celtics just hours before the trade deadline, using part of the $28.5 million trade exception they got for losing Gordon Hayward to get him from the Magic. Just four games into his Celtics tenure, Fournier tested positive for COVID-19, forcing him to miss nine games.

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After early shooting struggles and post-COVID issues, Fournier bounced back. He ended up scoring 13 points per game on 46.3 percent 3-point shooting over 16 regular-season games in Boston. Fournier scored 15.4 points per game on 43.3 percent 3-point shooting in the Celtics’ first-round series loss to the Nets.

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