The Clippers know what they want to do at center: Ivica Zubac will start games and Montrezl Harrell will come off the bench behind him and be a force of nature.
With those two, the Clippers need guys at the four who can space the floor. JaMychal Green will start at the four and provide that spacing, with Moe Harkless can fill some of that role as well.
Veteran stretch four Patrick Patterson agreed to a buyout with the Thunder a couple of weeks ago to clear out his path to the Clippers. Now that deal is done, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.
That is a veteran minimum contract, as expected.
Paterson played a limited role for Oklahoma City off the bench last season as he continues to try and get right following knee surgery a couple of years ago. He played in 63 games and averaged 3.6 points per game when he got on the court. That said, he’s a solid veteran presence and he can shoot the three still, hitting 33.6 percent from deep last season.
The signing is a bit interesting because the Clippers could use a third center off the bench (Patterson played 13 percent of his minutes last season there but he’s not a five) and another, more traditional backup point guard (to play behind Patrick Beverley and Lou Williams). That said, Patterson is one of the better veterans still available and the Clippers want the floor spacing at the four.
Justin Patton was drafted No. 16 just two years ago.
Players selected that high are rarely available in free agency so quickly.
The only other recent one was Georgios Papagiannis. The No. 13 pick in the 2016 draft, Papagiannis got waived by the Kings during his second season.
Patton started his career with the Timberwolves then got traded to the 76ers during his second season in the Jimmy Butler deal. Philadelphia waived him late last season to sign Greg Monroe for the playoffs.
Now, the Thunder are adding Patton, who was deemed a top young talent just a couple years ago.
Royce Young of ESPN:
That’s a surprisingly large guarantee for Patton. So much has gone wrong for him since being drafted.
He has played just four games, breaking his foot before both his rookie and second seasons. The NBA has also gone away from limited centers like him.
But for a minimum contract, this is a low-risk bet for Oklahoma City.
The Thunder had to sign someone else after buying out Patrick Patterson. That replacement player was always going to push them into the luxury tax. They have until the final day of the regular season to get out of it. They surely will, whether that involves waiving Patton’s partially guaranteed contract or some other method.
This guarantee indicates Patton will likely make the regular-season roster. Paying Patton $700,000 not to make the team would only increase the challenge of escaping the tax.
The Thunder are a taxed-out team willingly taking a step back and looking to trim costs.
The Clippers are early championship favorite and play in a desirable L.A. market.
No wonder Patrick Patterson wanted to move on. And no wonder Oklahoma City let him.
Patterson agreed to a buyout with the Thunder and will reportedly sign with the Clippers.
How much did he surrender to make that happen?
Bobby Marks of ESPN:
Patterson’s salary was $5,711,200. He’ll get $2,331,593 from the Clippers. With the $3.5 million giveback in the buyout, he’s down $1.2 million.
But as Marks said, the Clippers offer Patterson an opportunity to establish value entering free agency next summer. He’s the most archetypically sized stretch four on a strong roster.
The Thunder were $4,307,532 over the luxury-tax line. By reducing Patterson’s guarantee by $3.5 million and stretching the remaining amount, they get out of the tax.
However, Oklahoma City now has just 13 players. Signing someone else for the full season would put The Thunder back into the tax. They could skirt roster-size-minimum rules (essentially, 14 players) by signing someone to an unguaranteed deal and waiving him every couple weeks. Or they make another move to trim payroll.
Two years ago, it appeared the Thunder got a steal by signing Patrick Patterson for the taxpayer mid-level exception. But Patterson’s knee surgery the same summer was a warning sign that should’ve been heeded. Patterson had a couple underwhelming seasons in Oklahoma City.
Now, both sides are moving on.
Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:
The Thunder are $4,307,532 above the luxury-tax line. Patterson’s salary was $5,711,200.
I wonder whether he relinquished enough to get Oklahoma City out of the tax.
A buyout will provide at least some financial relief to the Thunder. They face the repeater tax and will almost certainly dodge it before its assessed the last day of the regular season.
Patterson will get a minimum salary from the Clippers ($2,331,593). Assume he gave up at least that much on his Oklahoma City buyout.
The Clippers have a few primarily small forwards who can play power forward – Kawhi Leonard, Paul George and Maurice Harkless. L.A. also has a couple bigs who can play either center or power forward – Montrezl Harrell and JaMychal Green.
Patterson will provide a different element as a bigger stretch power forward with defensive versatility. If the 30-year-old is healthy enough.
Facing another larger repeater-tax bill, the Thunder reportedly want to trim salary.
That’s why Oklahoma City appears to be just picking around the edges of free agency – with Nerlens Noel, Mike Muscala and Alec Burks.
Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:
Royce Young of ESPN:
Leave it to the tight-lipped Thunder not to reveal salaries. But given their tax situation, don’t expect large figures.
Noel played very well for Oklahoma City in a limited role last season. It’s possible he parlayed that into a somewhat substantial deal. I would have guessed a larger contract if he signed elsewhere.
Muscala is a decent stretch big. After landing him the Thunder could try to unload Patrick Patterson and his $5,711,200 salary.
Burks hasn’t had a good season in a half decade. The shooting guard looked promising with the Jazz, but injuries have sidetracked his career. Maybe he’ll contribute off the bench if healthy. I’d be surprised if he got more than the minimum.