In the same summer that the Oklahoma City Thunder traded for Paul George, they also had one of their biggest free agent acquisitions in their history with Patrick Patterson. At the time, Patterson seemed to be a perfect fit as the team’s starting power forward. He would complete a starting lineup of Russell Westbrook, Andre Roberson, Paul George, Patrick Patterson, and Steven Adams.
Patterson signed a three-year, $16.4 million contract with a player option in the third year. At the time, this seemed like a team-friendly deal for a veteran starting forward who had done nothing but positive things for his teams in the past.
In the four seasons with the Toronto Raptors prior to joining the Thunder, Patterson averaged 7.6 points and 4.8 rebounds in 25.2 minutes per game. He was also a serviceable defender as well as a stretch power forward who had shot 37.3 percent from deep during his time in Toronto.
Shortly after signing Patrick Patterson to be the starting power forward for the Thunder in the 2017-18 season, Oklahoma City traded for Carmelo Anthony. Upon this trade, Anthony made it clear that he would not be coming off of the bench and would demand the starting spot.
Just a couple of weeks after trading for Anthony, Patterson underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left knee and would miss the start of training camp. When he came back from his injury, he was slow to recover. Early in the season, Patterson seemed a step slower than he had been pre-surgery. Even after fully healing, he could never find consistent minutes.
In two seasons with the Thunder, Patterson never could find a consistent role. This lack of consistency resulted in some of the lowest numbers of his career and only starting in eight total games. Over these two seasons, Patterson averaged 3.8 points and 2.3 rebounds in 14.7 minutes per game on 36.4 percent 3-point shooting. Patterson even ranked 89th out of 91 qualified power forwards in ESPN’s real plus-minus in last season. Overall, it seemed to be more of a team fit issue for Patterson than not being a good player during his time in Oklahoma City.
Just weeks after opting into his $5.7 million player option for the 2019-20 season, Patterson will be bought out by the Oklahoma City Thunder, as first reported by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
This is something that had been in the works, considering Patterson has already made the decision to follow former teammate Paul George to the championship-contending Los Angeles Clippers. It would make sense if Patterson has agreed to take less than his full guarantee to benefit both sides. If this were the case, the Thunder would save money, while Patterson could get the change of scenery he needs.
Along with Jerami Grant as the second power forward to be traded away this summer, this move opens up minutes for several Thunder forwards. Danilo Gallinari, Mike Muscala, and rookie Darius Bazley will certainly see many key minutes in the 2019-20 season. Don’t be surprised to see Andre Roberson play some power forward in small-ball lineups as well.
The Oklahoma City Thunder made this move in effort to continue to get below the luxury tax line. Patterson will join a team in the Los Angeles Clippers that is one of the favorites to win the NBA Finals next season.