SALT LAKE CITY — After posing for photos with Randy Foye and listening to the newest Utah Jazz player speak to the media, Kevin O'Connor began his interview with a one-liner.
In a dry delivery, the Jazz's general manager joked, "We finally got somebody not named Williams."
True enough. This Jazz acquisition does not share a last name with the team's previous two pick-ups, Mo Williams and Marvin Williams.
The organization did, however, add another guy who seems like a good fit.
Foye can shoot. He can defend. He plays with toughness. He is known for being a good guy.
And, like his Williams teammates, the 6-4 shooting guard expresses an enthusiasm to play hoops in Utah.
"When I sat down with my wife and some of my family members," he said, "I understood that this was the perfect place for me to take my career as a basketball player to the next level."
O'Connor admitted the Jazz have had their eyes on Foye since he helped Villanova make a strong Elite Eight run in the NCAA tournament back in 2006. He went No. 7 overall in the draft that year, so Utah didn't have a chance to snag him. And they pursued him again two years ago, but the timing wasn't right and Foye ended up signing with the Los Angeles Clippers.
Foye was only signed to a one-year deal with the Jazz, who used part of their $5 million midlevel exception on him. But O'Connor said both parties are thinking long term in this relationship.
"He's somebody that fits our culture. … Winning's important to him," O'Connor said. "He brings good character, toughness and good ability. With those things, that fits nicely with who we are."
O'Connor believes Foye, a 36.6-percent career 3-point shooter, gives the Jazz even more of an outside threat. That's something the team lacked last season when the GM admitted "everybody had a foot in the paint against us" on defense because of Utah's long-distance shooting woes.
The incoming Williamses both have career 3-point marks in the 39-percent range, and O'Connor is confident Gordon Hayward and Alec Burks will continue to improve from deep.
"I think it's going to stretch the floor for us a little bit," O'Connor said.
If things go as planned by management with the roster alterations, the Jazz are looking to be more versatile, deeper, better shooters, a tougher defensive squad and improved on the road.
Foye and the Williamses only help to enhance that, Jazz brass believe.
"I like our depth. Coach (Tyrone Corbin) has proven he can maneuver in that vein as far as that goes," O'Connor said. "We're really, again, happy that we were able to get somebody (not only of) his character but his playing ability. There's a lot of good guys out there that can't play. … But on the whole, we think we've got really good talent and the character either matches the talent or goes above it."
The soon-to-be 29-year-old perked up when asked about his Randy Foye Foundation, which aims to help inner-city kids in his hometown of Newark, N.J., and his college city, Philadelphia.
"That basically helps out kids … that are at high risk (of) drug violence, gang violence, and things of that nature, and I just try to give back," Foye explained. "I just try to be a mentor, a big brother that helps our younger kids understand that I'm in the same situation as you guys growing up."
Foye, raised by his grandmother, continued: "I didn't have parents. I struggled. It was tough for me. But at the end of the day, I always had blind faith and understanding that if I did what I'm supposed to do, if I work hard, that I would ultimately be in the position where I would be able to be successful, and that's something that I've tried to pass along to them."
On another note, Foye has a rare medical condition called situs inversus. When he was 10, it was discovered after 10 days of being hospitalized that his organs, including his heart, are all on the opposite side of his body from the vast majority people. He joked that it was like finding out he was an alien when that condition was first discovered.
But after some bouts of bronchitis as a kid, Foye functions normally despite the abnormal condition.
"Everything is just flipped," he said. "It's just working in the opposite direction."
On the court, Foye comes in as an experienced combo guard, having played both the point and shooting guard, giving the Jazz yet another veteran ballhandler along with Mo Williams, Jamaal Tinsley and Earl Watson. But he played mostly shooting guard (his preference) while filling in for Chauncey Billups and helping the Clippers make it to the second round of the Western Conference playoffs.
Interestingly, Foye will be one of a half-dozen Jazz players whose contract is up at the end of the season. That group includes his former teammates, Al Jefferson and Mo Williams, along with Paul Millsap and Earl Watson. (Raja Bell's deal ends after the 2012-13 season, but it isn't likely he'll be in Utah.)
"You can't really think about that. You have to play basketball," Foye said when asked how all of those expiring contracts might affect the team. "If you play basketball and you play the right way and the team wins, everything else (will) take care of itself."
Foye admitted the Jazz have work to do to improve outside of Utah — where he believes Corbin's club enjoys an altitude advantage. But he is optimistic about the Jazz's playoff chances in part because of the talent — he mentioned Big Al, Mo Williams, Hayward, Burks and Millsap — and also because "this team competes." He admired that from afar at the end of the 2011-12 season when the Jazz just kept plugging along toward a postseason return.5 comments on this story
"This team continued to fight and that's something that I watched," Foye said. "That's' something that I'm a part of because I'm a fighter."
Foye held up a No. 21 jersey with his name on the back at Thursday's introductory press conference, but he said that number might change before the season starts. He's been wearing No. 4, but he acknowledged that won't be possible in Utah because it was retired in honor of Hall of Famer Adrian Dantley.