After a stagnant offseason, the Los Angeles Clippers quietly made a few moves to round out their rotation by signing free-agent guard Randy Foye and forward Ryan Gomes to multi-year contracts on Thursday night.
Instead of overpaying in an inflated free-agency market, general manager Neil Olshey picked up two under-the-radar type players to mesh with the team's young core, while maintaining future financial flexibility. Although the moves are less than splashy, Foye and Gomes will provide the team with versatile skill-sets that can help them win games now while not sacrificing anything for the future.
On the perimeter
With the exception of Baron Davis and Eric Gordon, the Clippers employed no player who had ever hit an NBA 3-pointer. Obviously, addressing that issue was a priority in free agency, so Olshey went out and nabbed two guys capable of hitting outside shots.
Foye, a 26-year-old combo-guard and former lottery pick, is one of the better guys in the league at shooting off the dribble and is a career 36.8 percent 3-point shooter.
Gomes, a 27-year-old small forward, has been almost as good with a 36.1 percent career average from deep. To put things in perspective, Rasual Butler, the Clippers' single-season record holder for most 3-point field goals, shot just 33.6 percent from beyond the arc last season.
Many of the Clippers' offensive problems last year stemmed from bad court spacing due to a lack of capable shooters. Defenses were able to pack it in and cut off driving lanes for Eric Gordon and Baron Davis and suffocate Chris Kaman on the block. By adding accomplished shooters like Foye and Gomes to the mix, opposing defenses shouldn't be able to play off the wings nearly as much. As a result, things should open up for Gordon and Griffin, something necessary for them to further develop their offensive repertoires.
By signing Foye and Gomes, the Clippers added some much needed flexibility to a rigid rotation.
At 6-foot-4 and with a solid build, Foye can play and defend both the point and 2-guard position. The ability for the third guard in a rotation to switch between both spots is usually a luxury, but the injury history of Baron Davis and the inexperience of the lone remaining point guard on the roster in rookie Eric Bledsoe made it a serious need.
Like Foye, Gomes is another classic tweener capable of playing both the small forward and power forward positions. Although he was more of a post-oriented player in his first few years in the league, Gomes has been able to make the transition to a wing player thanks to the expanding range on his jumper. As a solid rebounder with a big frame, Gomes makes up for Eric Gordon's deficiencies on the glass and still meshes well with Griffin and the Clippers' other big men who aren't proficient jump-shooters.
Foye's offensive abilities in the pick-and-roll make him a perfect match for the Clippers, who will probably run quite a few ball-screens under Vinny Del Negro. According to Synergy Sports, nearly half of Foye's field-goal attempts last season came off the pick-and-roll. How good is Foye in that setting? He averaged .88 points per possession on the pick-and-roll last season, an identical number to Tony Parker's, while turning the ball over less often than the former Finals MVP. Foye isn't a very good finisher at the rim, but he's a solid jump-shooter who knows how to get points from a simple ball-screen. Easy offense, especially from your bench, is not something to take for granted.
Minnesota played at the league's third-fastest tempo last season, and Gomes was right in the center of it. Whether he was a small-ball power forward trailing the play or a wing filling the lane, Gomes was a strong finisher in transition. It's no secret that Baron Davis wants to push the ball up the floor, and in Gomes, Davis has an outside shooter and finisher he can trust when the pace picks up.
The plan going into free-agency was certainly not to end up with Randy Foye and Ryan Gomes as the lone consolations. But after holding court with LeBron James and watching every other targeted free agent stay home for max money, there were limited other options available. By signing Foye and Gomes to reasonably priced deals, the Clippers' front office sent the message that they're willing to be patient and wait for the right opportunities to present themselves.
With six players under the age of 21 on their current roster, patience from all parties going forward will be more of a necessity than a virtue.