Officially, free agent Randy Foye has signed a one-year contract worth $2.5 million with the Jazz.
If things work out the way general manager Kevin O’Connor envisions, however, Foye will be in Utah far beyond the 2012-13 season.
At Foye’s introductory news conference Thursday, O’Connor addressed the possibility of making his newest player part of the franchise’s foundation in the years ahead.
Remember, the Jazz could be positioned well below the NBA salary cap next July.
“Hopefully it’s not just this year,” O’Connor said. “That’s not what we’re looking for. We’re looking for long-term. We should have money next year in some way, shape or form. … We think this is going to be a longer-term fit than one year.”
Foye isn’t concerned about his future in Utah, if there is one after the coming season.
“You can’t really think about that,” he said. “You just have to play basketball. If you play basketball and you play the right way, the team wins and everything else takes care of itself.”
Foye, 28, attended Villanova and has spent five seasons in the NBA, including the last two with the Clippers.
When he signed with L.A., O’Connor was interested in Foye. But the Jazz’s salary cap situation didn’t allow them to make a run at him.
Things were different this year, though, and O’Connor was vigilant in his pursuit of an experienced guard who brings versatility, toughness and 3-point shooting to a team needing those attributes.
“We told him at the beginning we really wanted him,” O’Connor said, “… [and] we’re obviously very happy to have him here. He’s somebody who fits our culture. He’s somebody that really feels like winning is important.”
When he spoke to the media, Foye quickly thanked O’Connor for “sticking with us and understanding” that listening to other offers was part of the free-agent process.
Several teams, including New York, Chicago, Dallas, Atlanta, Milwaukee and Houston, also talked to Foye.
So why Utah?
“At the end of the day, when I sat down with my wife and some family members, I understood this was the perfect place for me to take my basketball career to the next level,” Foye said. “… I understood there was a need for me here.”
Asked if he was worried about living in small-market Utah, Foye shook his head.
“Just looking at it, just thinking about it, I’m not a single guy,” he said. “Coming here, if you’re a single guy, that might be tough. But I have a wife and two young daughters. So I was in the house even when I was in L.A. I was in the house all the time.”
During earlier stops in his career, Foye was teammates with Al Jefferson and Mo Williams. He will be reunited with them in Utah.
Perhaps surprisingly, though, Foye didn’t seek input from Jefferson or Williams about playing in Utah. He wanted to make his own decision and “… once I decided, I wanted it to be over with. It was dragging out too long — definitely too long for me.”
Neither O’Connor nor coach Tyrone Corbin has spoken to Foye about his role with the Jazz, although he wants it known that he’s more than someone who can bury an open 3-pointer.
O’Connor called Foye “a ‘by-example’ guy. … Anybody you talk to in the league — as we’ve done our homework — they all say the same thing: great character, great worker, good player.”
Foye’s career statistics
Year Team Gms Min Pts Reb Ast
2006-07 Minnesota 82 22.9 10.1 2.1 2.8
2007-08 Minnesota 39 32.3 13.1 3.7 4.2
2008-09 Minnesota 70 35.6 16.3 3.1 4.3
2009-10 Washington 70 23.8 10.1 1.9 3.3
2010-11 L.A. Clippers 63 24.6 9.8 1.6 2.7
2011-12 L.A. Clippers 63 29.9 11.0 2.1 2.2