Written By: Josh Gutbrod
Earlier this week word came out that the Orlando Magic, amidst another losing season riddled with injuries to key players, were shopping young wings Evan Fournier and Mario Hezonja as well as athletic point guard Elfrid Payton. While Payton and Hezonja have so far only proven to be Magic lottery picks gone wrong, Fournier, originally acquired from Denver in the 2014 Aaron Afflalo deal, has developed into a prolific wing scoring option. At 6’7″ 205 lbs, the Frenchman can play both the two-guard slot and small forward and for the season is connecting on 39.6% of his three point attempts.
The best part about Fournier is that not only is he just 25 years old, he is under contract for the next three seasons at a reasonable $17 million for a player currently scoring 18.0 points per game. The swingman being on the market is sure to attract the attention of several teams around the league, but where might be the best fit for Fournier?
1. The Cleveland Cavaliers
The Cavaliers are still the best team in the Eastern Conference until LeBron James is playing elsewhere but have shown to be well behind their Bay area counterparts. Adding Fournier could never send the Cavs shooting past Golden State but he would provide a nice boost for Cleveland in the match up. At 6’7″ with good ball skills and a 39.6% three point shooting mark on the season, Fournier is perfect for matching the length of Golden State while upgrading the firepower of an already potent offense.
2. The Oklahoma City Thunder
The Thunder assembled one of the greatest trios currently playing, yet the offensive talent of the team’s supporting cast has proven to be as lacking as ever. Steven Adams is having a tremendous season, but rotational players like Jerami Grant and Andre Roberson offer almost no offensive value far too often. Fournier would be a nasty addition to a Thunder squad, as he would likely draw the attention of an opposing team’s third or fourth best defender due to the attention required by Westbrook and company.
3. The Portland Trail Blazers
Unlike the first two potential landing spots on this list, the Portland Trail Blazers acquiring Evan Fournier would serve as more of a long-term move. The Portland Trail Blazers have a young core and have needed a wing scorer for more than a few seasons now. Fournier is only 25 and is under contract for the next three seasons at $17 million per year, a relatively fair rate for the scoring punch the wing provides. In Portland, Fournier would have the chance to grow with a young playoff team for a coach in Terry Stotts that would certainly make the most of his talents.
4. The Detroit Pistons
Another fit for Fournier that does not necessarily involve winning now, the Pistons present a very interesting option for the wing. The Pistons have been muddled in Average Land for a few years now and bringing in Fournier to put alongside Tobias Harris gives the Pistons two young, upward trending players who can get their own shot. A team led by just Harris and Fournier might not even make the playoffs, but the strength of the fit comes from the ability to build around the pair. Neither are on highly expensive contracts, especially for their production, and could be a sneaky good foundation if the team can move some other pieces in aim of landing a star player to lead the way.
5. The Boston Celtics
The Celtics have been absolutely fantastic this season, but the team is not necessarily an offensive dynamo. With such a stock of young rotational players, good contracts, and draft picks, landing Fournier could dent Boston’s assets and would not prevent the team from making a separate move for a more talented player as well. While the Celtics have a strong group of guards and wings already, Fournier is able to do things offensively that the likes of Marcus Smart or Terry Rozier simply cannot do. This is the riskiest of the five fits given the possible rotation log jam. That being said, any team expecting to go through both Cleveland and Golden State on its way to an NBA title can always use another weapon.