The Oklahoma City Thunder need help on the wing. Unfortunately for Billy Donovan’s team, though, this move won’t quite provide enough of it.
We’ve long advocated for Oklahoma City to upgrade on the perimeter beside Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. Its season-long rotation of peripheral players is underwhelming. Andre Roberson is a strong defender but complete offensive liability; despite improvement, Dion Waiters can’t be trusted; and sharpshooter Anthony Morrow is the inverse of Roberson.
The ongoing emergence of rookie Cameron Payne is a major boon for the Thunder. He can play in the same backcourt as Westbrook, and offers a combination of spot-up shooting and reserved playmaking this team has long wanted from a reserve guard. Oklahoma City parting with Augustin would have been hard to imagine at the start of the season, but Payne’s eye-opening play made the veteran floor general easily expendable.
Like the Cleveland Cavaliers’ of Channing Frye, the Thunder’s acquisition of Foye makes them better. He’s a proven, steady pick-and-roll playmaker, and stands to fare better in spot-up shooting situations than he has this season while sharing the floor with devastating offensive forces like Durant and Westbrook. Though he’s undersized, the 6’4 veteran is a smart, engaged defender, too.
But it’s hard to imagine Foye making the kind of impact that will help propel Oklahoma City to exalted heights of the Golden State Warriors, or even the San Antonio Spurs.
Just where does he fit in Donovan’s rotation? Foye isn’t as disruptive or versatile defensively as Roberson, he’s not as dynamic Waiters, and he can’t shoot like Morrow. Perhaps his presence is insurance if lights of the postseason stage prove too bright for Payne?
If so, that’s a smart, logical play by Sam Presti. You never know with rookies. On the same token, though, 15 to 20 minutes of Foye won’t be the difference between the Thunder returning to the Finals for the first time since 2012, and being ousted by a historically great foe in the second round.
Here’s the more likely justification for notoriously shallow-pocketed Oklahoma City making this deal.
Maybe it’s time to realize that the trade potentially representing that shift doesn’t exist. For sake of the Thunder’s title hopes, however, here’s hoping Presti’s first move is followed by a bigger one. Just make sure you don’t count on it.