Randy Foye maintains balance despite topsy-turvy season

By Michael Lee
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, April 6, 2010; D03

When Randy Foye was selecting a cast to protect his season-ending left wrist injury, he had a choice between a black, white or other. The black cast was too boring and the white cast would've meant dealing with the hassle of people wanting to sign it, so Foye selected a more distinctive color scheme, camouflage.

Foye's decision to go with the third option is similar to the box that is checked whenever there is a debate about his position on the basketball court. He can handle the ball like a point guard and has the scoring instincts of a shooting guard, but he inevitably finds himself in the "other" category.

In this topsy-turvy season Foye took on several roles for the Washington Wizards. He went from backing up Gilbert Arenas at point guard, to starting alongside Arenas at shooting guard, to slipping out of the rotation, to replacing Arenas after his suspension, to returning to a backup role for Shaun Livingston before his season ended prematurely with a torn ligament in his left wrist.

After observing him for 70 games, Coach Flip Saunders considers Foye to be "a good third-type guard," while Foye thinks his position is obvious.

"I'm a point guard, man. I'm a scoring point guard. That's all," said Foye, who averaged 10.1 points and 3.3 assists in his fourth season in the NBA. "What's wrong with having a guy who can shoot and put the ball on the floor and defend? There is nothing wrong with that. That's a plus in a lot of people's eyes. If you have a point guard that can score, you try to use me to the best of my ability or put me in situations where I can be successful."

The Wizards (23-53) acquired Foye and Mike Miller in a draft day deal that shipped the fifth overall pick to Minnesota. The Timberwolves used the selection on Ricky Rubio, who stayed in Spain. But the Wizards also considered using the pick on Stephen Curry, a rookie of the year candidate who will make his debut at Verizon Center on Tuesday as a member of the Golden State Warriors, who made him the seventh pick.

After scoring 27 points against the Wizards in December, Curry said he was disappointed that Washington traded the pick instead of taking him. "That was definitely a spot that was on my radar," said Curry, who is averaging 16.6 points and 5.8 assists.

But the Wizards could find themselves in a position where they have nothing to show for that trade. Miller will be an unrestricted free agent and Foye will be a restricted free agent if the team decides to tender him a qualifying offer worth $4.8 million, which would give the Wizards first right of refusal if he signs elsewhere.

If the Wizards renounce Foye's rights, however, the team could potentially have about $23 million in salary cap space to use toward free agents and other trade acquisitions. Saunders said Foye is definitely someone that the team would consider bringing back. "We like some of the things that he can do," he said.

A league source said it is unlikely that the Wizards would retain Foye at the price of his qualifying offer, opening up the opportunity for him to walk without compensation.

"They really don't have to do nothing. It's up to them. Whatever management does, they are going to do, no matter what the outside thinks," Foye said. "I'm really not concerned. I think people have seen me enough in this league to know exactly what I can do and exactly what kind of player I am, if they acquire me, or whatever happens here. They know what they are getting. Being here would be important. This is somewhere I would like to be, but I understand that it's a business at the same time."

This is the first time in Foye's career that he was unable to improve upon the previous season, but he believes he has made some progress. "I definitely have grown," he said. "I give a lot of credit to Flip. He helped me become a better point guard. I see things. I've learned things that I didn't know in the past and I think it's only going to help me become a better basketball player in the future."

After averaging a career-high 16.3 points last season in Minnesota, Foye may not have expected his production to increase on a more talented team, but he certainly thought the season would be better for him and the Wizards.

"Personally for me, I felt as though I could have done so much more. This year has been tough for me, but I just keep believing. I keep my faith and move on from there. I put everything in God's hands and let him handle it," Foye said. "For the team, it's been crazy. This is not normal. The things that went on here are not normal. It affects everyone, but you have to move on."

But Foye didn't want to speculate about whether moving on also required a move elsewhere. "This season has been a roller coaster. Just for me to be here and say, 'Oh, I want this,' while the season is still going on would be foolish," Foye said. "I'm just thinking about being the biggest fan for my teammates and help them finish out the year strong."

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