The Knicks are playing the continuity card — adding a French flavor.
With a league-high $52.6 million in cap space, the Knicks made their biggest addition Monday night when former Celtics swingman Evan Fournier agreed to terms on a four-year, $76 million deal.
Knicks general manager Scott Perry, when he worked for the Magic, traded for the 27-year-old Fournier in 2014. Fournier has emerged as a solid scorer, though he is not considered as elite a defender as the departing Reggie Bullock. Fournier has never made the All-Star team, but the Knicks are paying him plenty.
With Fournier in the bag, Bullock, who started at shooting guard, signed with the Mavericks.
Fournier will move into the starting lineup alongside RJ Barrett, and to fill their hole at point guard the Knicks hammered out a deal to bring back Derrick Rose for three years, $43 million, which used up the rest of their cap room.
The Knicks were essentially rolling it back on the first night of free agency — also making big commitments to center Nerlens Noel and wing Alec Burks.
Noel and Burks were big parts of last season’s 41-31 playoff team, but president Leon Rose still was searching for an upgrade at point guard.
Fournier was traded this past season from Orlando to Boston at the trade deadline, and the Knicks staged talks with the Magic at the time. Fournier, who averaged 17.1 points and shot 41.3 percent from 3-point range, has starred for France in the Olympics, leading them to an upset over Team USA last week. Coincidentally, the Knicks added one Frenchman but will lose another one, Frank Ntilikina, who became an unrestricted free agent Monday.
The Knicks also agreed to re-sign Noel to a three-year, $32 million deal, leaving Robinson’s future in a lot of doubt. The Knicks exercised Robinson’s option of $1.8 million for the 2021-22 season. His durability is still an issue for the club and a social-media photo appeared to show him still in a walking boot taking shots.
The Knicks had to use their cap space to re-sign Noel, who ably filled in for Robinson during his injury-marred season, but didn’t perform well versus the Hawks during the playoffs, in which he was dominated by Clint Capela.
There’s speculation the Knicks might look to extend Robinson’s contract before he becomes a 2022 free agent. With the money going to Noel, however, Robinson now would become a potential important trade chip if the Knicks enter trade talks with Portland for point guard Damian Lillard.
Burks signed for three years, $30 million. He was having a Sixth-Man-of-the-Year type season until he contracted COVID-19 late in the year and didn’t have a good playoffs.
The Knicks had to use cap space to ink Burks and Noel as they don’t have their early Bird rights.
Noel saved the Knicks when Robinson broke his hand, then his foot. Noel’s poor playoffs could be attributed to a sore ankle.
In his first season with the Knicks this past season, the 27-year-old Noel averaged 5.1 points, 6.4 rebounds and a career-high 2.2 blocks per game.
Some of the Knicks’ higher-profile targets were going elsewhere. Chris Paul re-signed with the Suns and Kyle Lowry was sent in a sign-and-trade to the Heat, which will make Miami more formidable in the Eastern Conference as the Knicks try to keep pace.
Point-guard targets still on the board were Spencer Dinwiddie, Dennis Schroder and Reggie Jackson. Dinwiddie met with the Wizards and Bradley Beal reportedly was lobbying for the move.
The Knicks also had discussions with the reps for swingman DeMar DeRozan, but he’s not the 3-point shooting wing they hoped to acquire.
Pelicans point guard Lonzo Ball, also a Knicks target, went to the Bulls — another team that could be on the rise — in a sign-and-trade.
The Knicks still could add a point guard via trade, with the Cavaliers’ Collin Sexton still on the block — not to mention the chance of Lillard asking for a trade. Lillard has the Knicks very high on his wish list, but the Trail Blazers have the final call.
The Knicks announced their summer-league team and it’s packed — with the four rookies from Thursday’s draft, 2018 lottery pick, Kevin Knox and last season’s two first-round picks, Obi Toppin and Immanuel Quickley. Also named to the roster is Argentine point guard Luca Vildoza, who signed a four-year deal last spring and is playing currently in the Olympics.
One undrafted player from Thursday, Aamir Simms, a Clemson forward, also was signed to the summer-league team with a chance of gaining a two-way G-League contract. Their. 2021 draft picks, Quentin Grimes, Rokas Jokubaitis, Miles McBride and Jericho Sims will all play. Simms of Clemson was a second-team All-ACC selection, averaged 13.4 points, 6.4 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game.