Evan Fournier was more than willing to stay with the Boston Celtics for the right price, it appears.
The veteran wing agreed to a four-year contract with the New York Knicks on Monday that could be worth up to $78 million. The Celtics weren't willing to pay Fournier that kind of money, but if the two sides had found common financial ground, the 28-year-old admitted he would have preferred to stay in Boston.
"That was my priority going into the summer," Fournier told The Boston Globe's Gary Washburn about re-signing with the Celtics. "Because I knew the place.
"I talked to (Celtics president of basketball operations) Brad (Stevens) and we couldn't get a deal done, obviously. But I had my options. It wasn’t necessarily Boston only but I was more inclined to sign there because they traded for me and I felt good while I was there."
Fournier was enjoying a career season with the Orlando Magic when Boston acquired him at the NBA trade deadline in March. Despite missing several games due to health and safety protocols and getting off to a slow start, Fournier developed into a solid contributor for the Celtics, averaging 13.0 points and 3.1 assists over 16 games for Boston and increasing his scoring average to 15.4 points per game in the playoffs.
Fournier could have returned as the third scoring option behind Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, but Stevens and the Celtics chose a different route, trading for wing Josh Richardson and his $11.6 million expiring contract instead of exceeding the salary cap to pay Fournier nearly $80 million over four years.
The Knicks were willing to pay up for the France native, who seems pleased with where he ended up.
"New York has been on my radar for a while now," Fournier told Washburn. "I’ve always said the Knicks are the Knicks. And I’m honestly extremely happy I’ll be there next year."
Fournier added that Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau and the bright lights of New York were big draws, as well.
"The No. 1 thing was Thibodeau, I love a coach like Thibs," Fournier said. “Playing for coaches like (Steve Clifford) for a few years, I feel like I’m going to be very comfortable with (Thibodeau) and his style of play.
"I enjoy the pressure. I enjoy the spotlight. They had a really good season, they had a spot open and I thought I could really help them. And yeah, it’s freakin’ New York. It’s fun."