Randy Foye hasn’t played a single minute of a single regular-season game for the Nets, but when he steps onto the court Tuesday night against the Timberwolves, he’ll represent some of the best news the Nets have gotten since Jeremy Lin went down with a hamstring injury last week.
Obviously, the 10-year veteran gives the Nets stability at point guard — a position coach Kenny Atkinson generously categorized as “thin” after practice Monday — but it’s even more than that. Foye’s return from the hamstring injury that cost him the first six games of the season has the added bonus of freeing up Sean Kilpatrick, who currently is the best sixth man in the NBA but who at times has been forced to play out of position.
“Welcome news,” Atkinson said of Foye’s return. “It’s going to help us, help our young guys . . . I think Sean can definitely play the point. He’s done it, he handles pick-and-roll, but we don’t want to get Sean too out of his role [at shooting guard]. He’s done a fantastic job scoring off the bench for us, so we’re going to have to find — not saying he’s not going to play point guard — I think Randy will help alleviate some minutes at that position.”
Granted, like Kilpatrick, the 33-year-old Foye has spent most of his career at shooting guard, but he did play the point extensively in his first few seasons in the league. The Nets plan to ease him back slowly, Atkinson said, but he’s clearly their best option with Lin and Greivis Vasquez (ankle) out of the picture for now. “He looked good in practice today,” Atkinson said of Foye. “I don’t think we can throw him out there for 35 minutes . . . but it just gives us some stability, some leadership, defense.”
It also allows Kilpatrick more time to do his thing. Despite excelling at shooting guard, he has played 12 percent of his minutes at point guard and played there Friday (Isaiah Whitehead was called on for his first NBA start that game but ceded to Kilpatrick). Though he’s shown ability there, the Nets are loath to mess around with what works, and for good reason. Through the first six games, Kilpatrick has averaged 17 points, an NBA high for any reserve who’s played at least two games.
“I feel great,” said Kilpatrick, who worked extensively on strength and conditioning in the offseason. “I do feel a lot faster . . . My first step feels a lot faster and me being able to have an advantage in terms of me being able to jump a little higher now. I’m able to grab more rebounds than I did before, and I think that’s what Coach wanted me to continue to keep [focusing] my game on.”
Nets send McCullough to D-League. Chris McCullough was sent to the D-League Long Island Nets, the team announced. McCullough appeared in two games and averaged 1.0 point and 2.9 rebounds in 6.9 minutes per game.