By Tracy Weissenberg, for NBA.com
Posted Jan 22, 2013 12:01 PM
For better or worse, through success and roadblocks, accolades and disappointments, some careers are forever linked. On Draft night in 2006, the Timberwolves traded the No. 6 overall pick, Brandon Roy, to the Trail Blazers for No. 7 pick Randy Foye. Roy immediately became Portland's focal point and parlayed a successful season into the Rookie of the Year award. Foye's playing time was more limited in Minnesota, but he put together a solid season and was named to the All-Rookie First Team.
Asked recently if he had a hard time dealing with the change of fate on Draft Day and the vast differences in roles, Foye quickly responded, "Not at all, not at all. The media or certain people may make things out of it -- like, 'Hey, you should have done this or you should have done this, Minnesota. Or you should have done something else. [The Timberwolves] said they had their reasons why they didn't take [Roy]. But, it never really affected me."
Asked how being drafted into varying situations can impact a career trajectory, Foye says, "It's just different. [Portland] needed him to come in and play an important role right away. With me, [Minnesota] signed a veteran point guard [Mike James] to some pretty big money the year I was drafted. Eventually, I played and I got a chance to get on the floor and get the minutes that I deserved, but it was different. He came in to having the ball in his hands right away."
Roy's career quickly accelerated, as the shooting guard continued to make a statement as one of the premier players at his position with three consecutive All-Star appearances from 2008-10. In Minnesota, Foye developed steadily, but the Wolves left him out of their future by dealing him to the Wizards before the 2009-10 season.
In 2010, Foye signed as a free agent with the Clippers. The team won 32 games in his first year with the team, before trading for Chris Paul and reaching the conference semifinals last season.
On his experience in Los Angeles, Foye says, "It was good. I learned a lot from them. Obviously, we had a lot of injuries my first year I was there. I came off surgery that summer with my wrist and my knee and I played like two games, and I missed at least 20 games. Then Baron Davis was hurt, then Chris Kaman and Eric Gordon got hurt. So, everybody was hurt. And we kind of came together toward the end and played the way people thought we would be able to play."
Before the 2011-12 season, Roy announced his medical retirement due to degenerative knee conditions. It was a heartbreaking move for a player with so much promise, and showed how fleeting a career in the NBA can be. Meanwhile, Foye embarked on his second season with the Clippers. "We made the trade for Chris, obviously Chris is arguably the best point guard in the game. He came in, he changed a lot of different things. I started in that backcourt with him and he put me in the position to do some really cool things last year on being a big part of making history for that franchise."
Foye started all 11 playoff games for the Clippers -- the first playoff run of his career -- as the team defeated the Grizzlies before falling to the Spurs.
Asked if he had conversations with the Clippers about re-signing, Foye says, "They talked to me about it during my exit meeting. During free agency, we talked. But the moves that they made, I just felt as though I should go in a different direction because I didn't want to be stuck in a position where one night you're play big minutes, the next night you probably don't get playing time at all."
In the offseason, the Clippers bolstered their already solid backcourt of Paul and Eric Bledsoe by adding Jamal Crawford, Willie Green, and re-signing Chauncey Billups. Foye signed as a free agent with the Jazz.
"People who know basketball and know the game, they know what I can do, they know what I bring to a team. Obviously, people want you to be something that you're not. Throughout my career, all the doubters, I have proven them wrong," Foye said. "They said, 'Oh, he's not going to be anything, he's this, he's that.' But everywhere I have played, and everywhere I have gone, I've continued to strive towards being the best player that I can be."
This season also brought the attempted comeback of Roy, who signed with the Timberwolves -- the franchise that originally called his name on Draft night. Roy has been limited to five games, but despite setbacks with his knees, he has not announced plans to retire from the game.
Foye, now the regular starter at shooting guard for the Jazz, is to the point in his career that he can think about his place in the league.
"I just want people to respect me," he said. "Sometimes, a guy can make all the money in the world, he can be on every magazine, but people don't respect him. Cause you see toughness and you could tell who's tough on the court and you could tell who's not tough on the court. I just want people to respect me for my toughness, my work ethic and my professionalism."
He is with his fourth team in seven seasons in a career that has challenged him from the start. If he had to do it all again, if he could go back and give the young kid out of Villanova a bit of advice on Draft Day 2006, Foye knows what he'd say.
"Just take it one day at a time. Take one day at a time," he said. "If you're playing, continue to work hard. If you're not playing, work even harder. Every day."
NBA TV's Tracy Weissenberg is contributor to NBA.com. You can follow her on twitter at @basketballista.
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