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Clippers sign Patrick Patterson to one-year, veteran’s minimum deal

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The Clippers have added the 14th player to their roster.

Oklahoma City Thunder v Portland Trail Blazers Photo by Sam Forencich/NBAE via Getty Images

According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Clippers have agreed to a one-year deal with veteran free agent forward Patrick Patterson. The deal is for the league minimum, meaning Patterson will be paid $2.3M but will only count against the Clippers’ cap sheet for $1.6M, leaving the team $3.3M under the luxury tax threshold for 14 players.

Patterson struggled severely in Oklahoma City the past two seasons, eventually winding up on the fringe of the Thunder’s rotation. However, he was phenomenal in a multi-year stint with the Toronto Raptors prior to his recent struggles. In Toronto, he played under current Clippers assistant coach Rex Kalamian, who had this to say in December 2016:

Offensive IQ is he’s a ball-mover. He’s a spacer. He’s a shot-maker. Right? He gives us that shooting four that teams have now, right? It’s a threat. It gives us a guy on the perimeter that can catch and make a play off of a double team or a swing pass, catch it and swing it to the next open player. Defensively, he gives us the ability with his IQ and athleticism to be able to switch different pick-and-roll situations late in the game. He gives us the IQ to be able to come over into help situations and plug things so the offence doesn’t have free looks to the rim or free drives to the rim.

Patterson may not be a true center like many Clippers fans were hoping for, but his ability to be a switchy defender and floor-spacer make him an intriguing addition to this roster. After JaMychal Green, he gives the Clippers another floor-spacing option next to Ivica Zubac and Montrezl Harrell—and in emergencies, playing him and Green together is a viable small-ball lineup.

Having another legit backup PF on the roster doesn’t just cover the team when Green slides over to center (as we saw in last year’s playoffs). It also allows the Clippers to unlock the versatility of Maurice Harkless, who is currently presumed to be the normal backup power forward. Harkless is capable of playing both forward positions but is a more natural SF. In Portland, Harkless was regularly called upon to handle defensive assignments on the wing. When the Clippers are short-handed on the perimeter (either due to injury or rest), it should be a very natural transition for Landry Shamet to move into the starting lineup with Rodney McGruder sliding to backup SG and Harkless sliding to backup PF.

On paper, Patterson is the Clippers’ 11th man. However, if Paul George misses the first few weeks of the season as he recovers from shoulder surgery, Patterson could have an opportunity for opening night minutes, sparking a competition between him, Harkless, and McGruder for playing time once George returns.