The similarities are certainly there. Both stayed close to home to go to school. Both are slashing combo guards with an ability to get to the hoop. Both made the first-team all-rookie team. Even their names share a tongue-twisting similarity that has cause more than a few mix-ups of identity. But the tie that will forever bind Brandon Roy and Randy Foye occurred on June 28, 2006.
History may very well judge that day as the turning point of the Trail Blazers franchise. In a draft day that included fifteen trades, none were more important or carefully orchestrated as the move to acquire Brandon Roy. In short, the Blazers traded Sebastian Telfair, Theo Ratliff and a second-round pick in 2008 to Boston for Dan Dickau, Raef LaFrentz and Randy Foye, who Boston took with the seventh pick. Shortly thereafter, Foye was traded to Minnesota for Brandon Roy, who was taken by the Timberwolves with the sixth pick. In an organization that has occasionally found themselves on the short end of the trade stick, this move seemed like a proverbial slam dunk.
And really, there would be no reason for either player to hold a grudge. After all, it was one of those trades where everyone got the guy they wanted, or at least it seemed that way at the time. Fast-forward a year and a half to last night’s game at the Target Center. The Blazers, led by Brandon Roy’s 24 points, five rebounds and three assists, defeat a slumping Minnesota team 90-79 in a game that never felt in doubt. In contrast, Randy Foye, considered by most to be the future figurehead of the franchise in the absence of the since traded Kevin Garnett, sits behind the Timberwolves bench in a finely pressed three-piece suit. Sidelined indefinitely with a bad knee, Foye can only watch and provide encouragement to his young teammates who could desperately use his ability to dribble penetrate. It’s enough to make some Timberwolves fans wonder if general manager Kevin McHale made the right move on that June night.
“If you look at it for face value right now, I think you’d say we made the wrong decision, but we don’t quite have all the information yet because Foye’s has been injured and we don’t quite know what he can do right now.” said Rob Brewer, a Minnesota fan and co-author of the website Timberwolvestoday.com. “I just think right now if you look at it, it’s tough to think that the Wolves made the right decision.”
Neil Olmstead, the other author of the afore-mentioned site, notes the bitter irony of Foye’s injury as it relates to one of the perceived reasons why the T-Wolves decided to ship off Roy rather than keep him.
“The rap on Roy before he was drafted was ‘hey, this guy might be injury prone’ or possibly ‘hey, we’re kind of worried about the injury situation,’” Olmstead said, “and now Foye is the one who’s been out for our entire season so far. I just think that’s ironic how Roy’s having an incredible season and Foye’s the one who’s out with injury.”
But in talking with Timberwolves fans at the Target Center, you don’t get the feeling that they’re necessarily ready to believe the trade was a mistake.
“I think once (Foye) comes back from being injured, people are going to see that the trade wasn’t as bad as people are thinking right now,” said Timberwolves supporter Robbie Richards, still giddy after getting Corey Brewer to sign his Florida jersey. “I think the trade will end up good for both teams. Obviously Roy is the leader of the Blazers right now and he’s their best overall player, but Foye, I think, is going to be an all-star soon.”
Incidentally, Brandon Roy agrees.
“I remember when I was going through the draft process I was always hearing about Randy,” Roy said prior to the game, “and I had a chance to work out with him a couple of times and I always felt that he was a really good player. I fell like whichever team was to take either one of us was going to get a good pick. I mean, he’s injured for now but I think he’s going to bounce back and I think he’s going to be a terrific player for them.”
So save a career-ending injury to either player, it’s probably safe to say that both teams added a high quality player to their franchise. No one knows what the future holds, but the success that Brandon Roy has already achieved along with the potential for what he’s capable of accomplishing makes one thing quite clear to Blazer fans: We got the guy who was best for us.
Tomorrow: LaMarcus Aldridge and Tyrus Thomas.