Celtics

Evan Fournier reportedly signs with Knicks, Celtics unwilling to offer four-year deal

The Celtics remain focused on cap space in 2022.

Evan Fournier Knicks
Evan Fournier reportedly agreed to a deal with the New York Knicks. Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images

The Celtics added Evan Fournier at the trade deadline with an eye on keeping him in free agency, but as the team’s priorities shifted to maintaining cap flexibility, the Knicks stepped in and agreed to a deal with Fournier on Monday.

According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Knicks and Fournier came together on a four-year contract worth $78 million, with a team option on the final year.

For the Celtics, who have made it abundantly clear that they hope to clear max space to sign a free agent next offseason, the number was prohibitive. Fournier is a good scorer who averaged 19.7 points per game in Orlando before he was traded, but his defense isn’t strong, and the Celtics weren’t willing to take themselves out of next year’s sweepstakes to keep him.

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When the Celtics acquired Fournier, they slotted his contract into the massive $28.5 million traded player exception (TPE) created by the sign-and-trade that sent Gordon Hayward to the Hornets last offseason. That allowed Danny Ainge to offer just two second-round picks to the Magic in exchange for Fournier’s services without matching salaries. Fournier’s acquisition, however, did not use the whole TPE. The Celtics used the rest of the TPE to pick up Mavericks guard Josh Richardson in exchange for big man Moses Brown over the weekend.

The Celtics did not make any moves in the opening hours of free agency, and several of their reported targets — including Lonzo Ball and Jeff Green — were scooped up by other teams willing to offer more money and more years. But the Celtics and Fournier increasingly seemed destined to split as reports trickled in that the sides realized they had different goals this offseason.

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The Knicks, who made the playoffs as a four-seed last year, brought back Derrick Rose, Nerlens Noel, and Alec Burks in addition to adding Fournier.

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