Former Celtics guard Evan Fournier has agreed to a four-year deal with the Knicks that is worth up to $78 million, according to ESPN. In recent days, multiple league sources indicated that the Celtics no longer believed they were in position to re-sign the veteran guard, with Boston unwilling to approach that hefty salary.
The Celtics acquired Fournier from the Magic last March using a chunk of the massive trade exception that was created in the sign-and-trade that sent Gordon Hayward to the Hornets. The Celtics also surrendered two future second-round picks in the deal.
The move was done to bolster last season’s team, but also because it would give Boston Fournier’s Bird rights, meaning the salary cap would not affect their ability to re-sign him. In the end, though, that did not matter.
Fournier contracted COVID-19 just a week into his Celtics tenure and missed nine games because of the virus. He struggled with aftereffects following his return and averaged 13 points and 3.3 rebounds over 16 regular-season games with Boston.
The Celtics were busy last week, as they traded away centers Tristan Thompson and Moses Brown and acquired guard Josh Richardson, guard Kris Dunn and center Bruno Fernando. But the start of free agency on Monday was rather quiet.
According to a league source, the team continues to place an emphasis on financial flexibility for the 2022-23 season, when Boston could put itself in position to add another maximum-salary free agent. All three of the players the Celtics added last week have just one year remaining on their contracts.
The Celtics were interested in signing forward Jeff Green, according to a source, but the veteran ultimately went to the Nuggets on a two-year, $10 million deal on Monday.
The Celtics are still looking to sign a versatile forward, and a guard who can create off the dribble, but they can only offer the mid-level exception and veteran’s minimum contracts, taking them out of the running for higher-level options. And in the end, the source said, the team has no plans to act hastily just to add a player who would probably not be a difference-maker on this roster.
Reports surfaced on Monday that the Celtics were interested in bringing back former All-Star point guard Isaiah Thomas, but a league source said that Thomas is not in the Celtics’ plans.
Late Monday night ESPN reported that former Celtics forward Semi Ojeleye had agreed to a one-year deal with the Bucks. Ojeleye, the 37th pick of the 2017 draft, averaged 3.5 points and 2.1 rebounds over four seasons with the Celtics.