Knicks not ready to send Evan Fournier to bench just yet

It does not sound as if Evan Fournier is shooting his way to the bench.

It will take more than a 37-game sample size for Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau to shake up a starting unit that has not gotten enough from a shooting guard whom the team signed for $73 million this offseason.

“Not really,” Thibodeau said Wednesday, when asked if he had considered trying Fournier with the second unit.

Fournier shot a career-best 41.3 percent from 3-point range last season, but that mark has fallen to 36.3 percent this campaign. And it’s still falling: In about 22 minutes of play during the Knicks’ victory over the Pacers on Tuesday, Fournier was held scoreless, shooting 0-for-4 from the field and 0- for-3 from deep.

He finished with two assists and a steal and underwhelmed on defense, as he could not keep up with 28-year-old replacement player Keifer Sykes — underscoring the fact Fournier does not offer a ton when his shot isn’t falling.

Evan Fournier
N.Y. Post: Charles Wenzelberg

Thibodeau could elevate Immanuel Quickley, Quentin Grimes or Miles McBride into the first unit, but the coach said he prefers to keep the continuity within the groups. Plus, Thibodeau said, he still sees defenses respecting Fournier’s range.

“Even when he’s not shooting, he spaces the floor for us, so I do like that aspect,” Thobodeau said after practice in Tarrytown. “The one thing [is] about trying to get our second unit to stay intact as much as we can. Those guys have played really well together for a while now.”

Thibodeau said Kemba Walker, who has missed three games after aggravating an injury to his arthritic left knee, “did a little but not much” in Wednesday’s practice. Thibodeau was not sure if Walker would play Thursday at the Garden against the Celtics.

The Knicks do not believe the veteran will need surgery.

Thibodeau said Nerlens Noel, who missed seven games after entering the COVID-19 protocols Dec. 22, is day-to-day.

Noel, who has been cleared, “did some” work in practice Wednesday.

Mitchell Robinson entered the protocols Saturday and was cleared in time for the game Tuesday. He missed just one game, but his experience “sucked.”

Robinson said he felt fine and did not test positive for the coronavirus, but the result was inconclusive, which sidelined him. The center was not able to return until he returned two negative tests.

“You sit out a couple of days, not doing nothing, not doing a run — you’re going to get out of shape quick, you know?” Robinson said. “You’re just sitting in a room right now all day. Then coming back, it’s tough.”

He still managed to play about 25 minutes Tuesday.

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