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Ruben Patterson

Well, since I declared the Clipper ship full back on August 13, the Clippers have signed two players that were not on my list.  Shows how much I know.

The Guillermo Diaz signing remains a bit of a mystery to me.  Although I have yet to see anything definitive, Eric Pincus of Hoopsworld reported Diaz' deal as a three-year minimum contract and not fully guaranteed.  The amount of that guarantee is crucial to Jared Jordan's fate - it's still possible that Diaz and Jordan will go into camp fighting for one roster spot, assuming the Clippers don't have too much guaranteed money invested in Diaz.  I find it hard to believe that Jared Jordan is not of interest to the team.  They spoke glowingly of him upon drafting him, he played about as well as any point guard in the Vegas summer league (at least on offense), and meanwhile Sam Cassell is in the final year of his contract, Brevin Knight is 31 and injury prone, and Shaun Livingston may or may not be able to return from a devastating injury.  I'm saying, point guard is a need NOW and in the future.  I suppose it's possible that the Clippers could try to stash Jordan in Europe for a season and bring him back next summer (as they did with Diaz).  The fact that he remains unsigned might support that theory, but I have not heard anything to that effect.  

Back to Patterson.  Although the terms were not disclosed, Art Thompson III says that it's a one year deal in the OCR.  That's good news for the Clippers.  I like Patterson, but at 32 I'm not convinced I'd want him around for long.  For instance, I'm not thrilled with the idea of him getting minutes at the expense of Al Thornton.  But Patterson works hard, hustles, plays defense, and has a terrific post up game.  Not particularly tall, he is nonetheless strong as a bull and uses his strength very well around the basket.  Pincus is the only writer who goes into the depth chart issues raised by Patterson's signing.

Just as Diaz and Jordan seem to be mutually exclusive on the roster, I'm guessing that Patterson's signing spells the end for Yaroslav Korolev.  As I mentioned before, although the LA Times reported months ago that the Clippers and Korolev had reached an agreement for him to return to the team, no contract was ever signed.  Patterson is the 15th contract for the team, and all but Diaz are guaranteed money as far as I know.  This signing also makes it highly unlikely that both Diaz and Jordan will make the team.  It's pretty clearly an either/or, as we suspected all along, unless there is a trade in the works.

Speaking of trades - what's the deal with all the small forwards?  Is one of them going to be shipped out?  Maggette, Ross, Patterson, Thomas and Thornton would all seem to need minutes, and all are natural 3's (although Maggette and Ross will definitely see some minutes at the 2, and the others will all play some 4).  Hell, even Cat Mobley plays the 3 on defense as often as not.  Of course, more and more frequently in today's NBA the 'wing' position is indistinguishable - there's less and less difference between a 2 and a 3.  So if you spread six bodies across two wing spots, it seems less crazy.

It's also interesting that Patterson, at the end of a 6/$34M deal and coming off the most productive season of his career was forced to accept a one year deal in late August.  I find it surprising that he did not generate more interest.  More than any other year in recent memory, the NBA just seems to be 'full' this summer.  Of course it doesn't help that Penny Hardaway has unretired (and others are trying).  One would think that NBA coaches would love to have a Ruben Patterson on their team - a veteran who always plays hard and plays tough defense.  Of course, there are other, 'character' issues that may mitigate teams' enthusiasm for him.

Of course it remains possible that the team could waive a player with a guaranteed contract, but don't count on it.  It's never happened since I've been following the Clippers, so I don't expect it to happen now.  That means, dasvidania Yarik, hello Ruben.  And training camp is most likely Highlander time for Diaz and Jordan - there can be only one.