Jazz could do a lot worse than to sign this free agent

May 9 2013 - 3:32pm

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Randy Foye is a darn-good basketball player and a terrific 3-point shooter, as evidenced by the way he set a new Utah Jazz record for 3s last season.

He might not be the best poker player, however.

Or a new car buyer.

Solidly self confident and unblinkingly genuine, Foye, an upcoming free agent, has left no doubt where he wants to play next season.

It starts with a "U" and ends with a "tah."

On the day they cleaned out their lockers following the 2012-13 season, I approached him with one simple question: How much would you like to come back to the Jazz?

While other potential free agents hedged their bets, Foye did not. If he's trying to send the team mixed signals about his intentions for next season, he did a lousy job of it.

If he wrote out a Carlos Boozer-style I'm-gonna-get-paid speech, he forgot to bring it that day.

"Oh, that's my No. 1 option," he said. "That's it, No. 1 option. I want to be here, I want to continue to lead. We have unfinished business."

He's right, they do.

The Jazz missed the playoffs, finishing the season with a record of 43-39. They fell short by two games despite a strong end-of-the-season push.

Foye, 29, is a journeyman guard, having just completed his seventh NBA season. He isn't a nightly scoring threat, isn't an All-Star, isn't the kind of player who'll grab a lot of national headlines. But he's a smart player, a strong outside shooter and perhaps best of all, an excellent leader.

As the Jazz move forward with a core of young, talented players -- Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter -- having a veteran with Foye's character is a major plus.

Signed as a free agent in July 2012, Foye earned about $2.5 million last season, which was a bargain so good you'd think the Jazz used one of those "invitation only" coupons to get him.

For the first time since his rookie season (Minnesota, 2006-07) he played in all 82 games, averaging just over 27 minutes per contest. He started all but 10 of those games and averaged 10.8 points.

During a season in which they missed the playoffs by just a couple of games, the Jazz were plagued by injuries.

Just speculating here, but it doesn't seem unreasonable to think the Jazz could have picked up four or five more wins had Mo Williams not missed 32 games with a thumb injury or Hayward not missed 10 with a sprained shoulder Still speculating: Given those injuries, the Jazz easily could have finished with a worse record had Foye not played all 82 games.

In fact, no other player on the team played in every game. Not Al Jefferson, not Paul Millsap, not Mo Williams, not Hayward, not Favors.

Based on toughness and leadership alone, it seems re-signing Foye for next season and beyond is a no-brainer. But then there's his ability to shoot the ball, in particular the 3-pointer.

He took a whopping 434 3s last season and made 178 of them, shattering Mehmet Okur's old record of 129.

Percentage-wise, that's 41 percent from behind the 3-point arc and that's very respectable.

Considering he's only 29, Foye is in the prime of his career, which means he can help the Jazz well beyond next season, if they choose to sign him to a multi-year deal.

At this point, nobody really knows what the future holds for the Jazz. They're coming off a disappointing season and they could potentially lose eight players to free agency, including Foye.

But that also means they've got a lot of money to spend this offseason.

In the coming weeks and months Jazz fans will hear a bunch of names being thrown around as free agent possibilities and it'll be interesting to see how that all shakes down.

If they're smart, the Jazz won't waste any time in signing one free agent in particular.

His name starts with an "F" and ends with "oye."

Jim Burton is the Standard-Examiner's sports columnist. He can be reached at 801-625-4265 or at jburton@standard.net. He tweets at http://twitter.com/jmb247

 

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