SAN FRANCISCO — The Knicks had a day off Wednesday, or at least the players did after suffering their fourth straight loss and 10th in the last 12 games. With the team sitting in 12th place in the Eastern Conference with a 24-31 record, the front office would have no such luxury.
As the trade deadline approached though, it seems as if the Knicks are more intent on correcting the mistakes of the summer than finding some piece to salvage this season. But one of those players who has clearly been made available to other teams, Evan Fournier, hopes that the Knicks front office give them a chance.
“I truly do,” Fournier said Wednesday night after the Knicks were easily beaten by the Denver Nuggets. “I’ve only been here for a few months so you guys probably don’t know me, but when I say something I mean it. I’m not . . . saying something just to say it. I really do believe we have the right pieces.
“We have talent, we have toughness, we have everything. And we’re not that far from playing better and getting wins. It’s just about finding a way to play and sticking with that and building confidence and all that. Stuff happens fast in the NBA. . . . We just have to find ourselves right now. We’re kind of going through it. It’s a tough road trip. It’s a tricky part of the season, just before the All-Star break and all the trade rumors. Just focus on what matters, man.”
The Knicks have tried to unload the contracts signed this summer — the free-agent pickups, Fournier and Kemba Walker, as well as the players they re-signed, Alec Burks and Nerlens Noel. Making amends for mistakes may be admirable rather than sticking to their deals and continuing to see the results suffer. Michael Grange of sportsnet.ca reported that Toronto GM Bobby Webster, whose Raptors are in the playoff picture, indicated that Fournier would not be a fit as the Raptors look to use the expiring contract of Goran Dragic to pick up another player.
The Knicks, while signing Noel back in the summer, passed on the chance to sign Mitchell Robinson to an extension and now face the prospect of losing him as an unrestricted free agent in the summer. There has been interest in him, but teams seem inclined to wait until the summer to pursue him.
The Knicks did pull off one trade already this season, sending a first-round pick and Kevin Knox to Atlanta for Cam Reddish. But Reddish has been relegated to brief garbage time minutes other than when the Knicks were missing players and Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau’s hand was forced.
While the Knicks swung that deal last month there have been a number of deals completed by other teams in recent days that have included high-level talent that the Knicks certainly could use. Tyrese Haliburton, who the Knicks passed on in the draft two years ago, was the key piece the Kings sent out to obtain Domantas Sabonis.
There are still fits — mostly players who teams are now expressing buyers remorse over like Washington’s Spencer Dinwiddie — that the Knicks could make a play for before the 3 p.m. EST deadline Thursday.
Julius Randle, asked if the team’s slump could lead to pieces being shipped out, said, “It’s not my job. I try to focus on the things that I can control. That’s not in my control.”
Fournier knows that his name is out there and remains hopeful — but pragmatic.
“We have a job to do,” he said. “We have games to win. We have to prepare the same way. So yeah, it really doesn’t matter. There’s no effect at all. Actually, the one time I got traded from Denver to Orlando there was no rumors at all, there was nothing. So stuff like that, it’s just a business. Year 10, you just don’t worry about that.”