In his usual, wry style, Jazz general manager Kevin O’Connor looked around a circle of interviewers Thursday, expecting a decent review of his summer’s work.
“Somebody in this group said we might need some shooting,” O’Connor observed, in case anyone needed reminding.
Well, yeah. Something about watching the Jazz struggle to make a 3-point shot, fail to keep defenders from surrounding Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap inside, and get swept by San Antonio in a playoff series created the impression outside help was required.
So, of course, O’Connor landed two players from the NBA’s other team that was swept by the Spurs in May.
Yet ignoring how guards Mo Williams and Randy Foye of the Los Angeles Clippers fared no better than the Jazz against San Antonio, O’Connor definitely has attempted to address his biggest problem.
Is it solved? Nobody knows for sure. Let’s just say this is becoming a very intriguing season in Jazzland, with newcomers Mo Williams, Marvin Williams and Foye each entering the last year of his contract and potentially upgrading the Jazz’s shooting ability.
If the free-agent signing of Foye, who was introduced Thursday, plays out the way O’Connor hopes, the Jazz’s GM will have delivered the best bargain of his career. If not, and opponents can revert to playing defense with “one foot in the paint,” to use O’Connor’s expression, the Jazz are out only $2.5 million for the one-year deal.
O’Connor is choosing not to evaluate Foye on a points-per-dollar basis. Clearly, both parties will benefit if Foye comes through this season, so this could become a long-term relationship.
At the very least, Foye will force wing players Gordon Hayward and Alec Burks to improve their shooting in the interest of staying on the floor. O’Connor credited Foye with raising his 3-point shooting percentage in each of his six seasons in the NBA — which is not true.
But he was very good last season with the Clippers, with 38.6-percent shooting that would have helped lift the Jazz (32.3) above their No. 27 ranking in the 30-team league. That’s why Foye spoke of “a need for me” in Utah, making this “the perfect place for me.”
Foye pictures himself spotting up and taking passes from Al Jefferson out of double-team situations, which makes me credit him with a good imagination. After all, he played in Minnesota with Jefferson, a self-described “black hole” in his Timberwolves days. Yet Jefferson showed some signs of becoming a willing passer last season, so maybe there’s hope for this renewed partnership.
And maybe Foye can become the Jazz’s new version of Kyle Korver. They’ve desperately needed outside shooting ever since Korver (and then Mehmet Okur) departed. Like Korver, Foye is community minded.
His foundation’s Assist 4 Life program mentors elementary school students in his hometown of Newark, N.J., awarding trips to Los Angeles to watch the Clippers last season and tours of Villanova University in Philadelphia, where Foye played. A visit to Salt Lake City now is in the works, so Foye can show the students “more than just the inner city and gang violence,” he said.
Utah is “different,” Foye said, as a compliment. As for the product they put on the floor this season, the Jazz clearly are hoping not to deliver the same, old stuff.