How Will Randy Foye Fit In Oklahoma City?

Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports /

The  Thunder acquired Randy Foye via trade from the Denver Nuggets. But what role will the veteran play in the team’s quest for a title?

Every year, Thunder general manager Sam Presti makes a move in February. Whether it’s the a trade at the deadline or picking up a buyout candidate, fans waited with baited breath for Presti to make his latest move on the Oklahoma City roster.

As this past Thursday’s deadline approached, the deal was made. Randy Foye arrives in Oklahoma City in exchange for D.J. Augustin, Steve Novak and two second-round picks (both from this year with one via Charlotte from the Jeremy Lamb trade).

The roster has been trimmed to 14 players, leaving room to add a potential buyout candidate or free agent if the right player becomes available and is willing to sign. The Thunder also picked up a $3.8 million trade exception in the process, as well as shaved $3.6 million in basic salary (Augustin and Novak combined for $6.7 million with Foye coming in at $3.1 million) not to mention the Thunder have saved $9.8 million in total salary and luxury tax payments. While not a home-run deal by any means, it still appears to be a winning trade on all fronts.

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Foye is a 32-year-old combo guard and 10-year veteran that is also in the last of a three-year, $9.1 million deal. Do not get carried away and believe he is now the starting shooting guard for the Thunder, because he’s not that guy. Foye will provide a good locker-room presence (something he was renowned for in Denver), and has the ability to slot in where needed at either backcourt position. He will become the de facto third point guard in Augustin’s place, who hadn’t rocked the boat but was clearly unhappy at losing his spot in the rotation in a contract year.

He’ll also offer a more rounded alternative on both ends. Though it remains to be seen whether he can make a serious dent in the rotation, he at least offers another alternative for the Thunder. Novak was the Dad of the squad, a glorified bench warmer who barely played in garbage time. Augustin’s shooting had been so inconsistent that it could no longer justify his terrible defense. Foye’s size (6-4, 213 pounds) will allow him to play against various positions, which could be handy against the perplexing lineups that the Golden State Warriors tend to employ.

Randy Foye is not the answer to all of the Thunder’s issues, but his versatility could prove handy when needed. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
Randy Foye is not the answer to all of the Thunder’s issues, but his versatility could prove handy when needed. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports /

The Thunder’s movements (or lack thereof) indicate what they’ve been saying all along: they already feel like they’re a contender. While there are doubters – particularly those holding reservations on the team’s defensive abilities – Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Co. clearly feel they can compete with the likes of the Warriors, San Antonio Spurs and the Cleveland Cavaliers. Late-game execution has cost them in losses to the league’s best (and not defense) and this is an ongoing process under first-year head coach Billy Donovan. He’s tinkered with his lineups all season long to great effect, and with 30 games left in the season, expect this to continue with Foye.

It was also shown that Cameron Payne struggled in the national spotlight when the Thunder went to Oakland to take on the Warriors. There’s no shame in that, Payne is a rookie and growing pains are expected. Should these continue come playoff time, Foye can be a release valve. The former Villanova product spent the majority of his early days as a point guard in Minnesota and Washington, so when this is required it’ll be nothing new to the player.

He’s also a career 37-percent shooter from three-point range, and should be be able to at least hit this mark with so many open shots available in the Thunder offense. He has struggled this season from deep (at just 29 percent), but his opportunities within the Oklahoma City offensive scheme should be significantly better than they were with the Nuggets. Considering the team’s 22-32 record, Foye did well to post a +2.2 on/off court rating as part of a raw Denver squad. He also spent 62 percent of his minutes at small forward, not exactly an ideal fit for a player of his size.

It is incredibly difficult to make bargain trades when a team already has a fully stacked roster with a lack of assets to move. This isn’t the deal that elevates the Thunder above the rest, but it was never designed to be. A bigger move wasn’t available, and Sam Presti did what he always does and created an asset (the trade exception) while saving serious cash ($9.8 million) on players who barely cracked the rotation. The Thunder are betting on what they already have, now it will be shown in the coming months if Foye has a part to play in that or not.

All statistics were taken from Basketball Reference unless otherwise stated.