Now that the Clippers’ 2020 season has reached its disappointing end, 213Hoops will work through the roster player-by-player for our “Exit Interview” series. Today’s exit interview features shooter Patrick Patterson.

Basic Information

Height: 6’8″

Weight: 235

Position: Power Forward

Age: 31

Years in NBA: 10

Key Stats: Made 59 appearances and 18 starts for the Clippers, averaging 4.9 points and 2.6 rebounds in 13.2 minutes per game. Shot 39% from three on 2.9 attempts per game. Played just 9:43 of garbage time across two appearances in the playoffs.

Contract Status: Unrestricted free agent coming off of a one-year veteran’s minimum contract worth $2.3M. The Clippers will have non-bird rights on Patterson, which means that they can pay him up to 120% of the minimum salary for a 10-year veteran–roughly $3.1M. This contract can run up to 4 years and carry maximum raises of 5%.

Expectations

Patterson came to the Clippers looking to rebuild his value after a dismal two-year run in Oklahoma City that ended with him playing himself out of the rotation at the end of the 2019 season. After being a quality rotation piece for the Toronto Raptors in his mid-20s as a versatile and dependable defender and solid shooting power forward, Patterson found himself being waived by the Thunder last summer and looking simply for an opportunity to play on a roster.

For a Clippers team that featured returned big men Ivica Zubac and Montrezl Harrell, re-signed JaMychal Green after a big 2019 playoff performance, and added forwards Kawhi Leonard and Moe Harkless, there didn’t seem to be a real spot in the rotation for Patterson. But, joining former Thunder teammate and good friend Paul George, Patterson figured to provide the Clippers with a little more trustworthy depth than rookie big man Mfiondu Kabengele and two-way center Johnathan Motley.

Reality

The Clippers’ arrangement with Patterson ended up working out well for both parties, as various combinations of injuries, load management, and match-ups over the course of the season resulted in the Clippers looking to Patterson regularly, for almost 800 regular-season minutes. He started 18 games, including the first 11 of the season, and played 12 or more minutes 34 times. While he wasn’t one of the Clippers’ rotation players when the team was fully healthy, he gave them quality minutes when they weren’t.

While being solid defensively and on the glass, Patterson’s primary contribution was his high-volume, high-efficiency three-point shooting. He was one of just fifteen players in the NBA to shoot 39% or better on 10.5 or more attempts per 100 possessions in the regular season, and that shooting helped the Clippers’ spacing throughout the year.

The acquisition of Marcus Morris, along with the team’s tightening playoff rotation, squeezed Patterson’s minutes as the year wore on and the team entered the Orlando bubble. Morris and Green are both better all-around players than Patterson, with each bringing more defensively than Patrick at this stage in his career and Morris having the ability to create his own shot while Green is a very good rebounder as a smaller center. On the shooting front, neither quite reached Patterson’s output but are comparable: Green shot 38.7% from deep on 8.6 attempts per 100 possessions this year, while Morris shot 40.8% on 8.7.

With most of the Clippers’ supporting cast struggling from deep in the team’s second-round loss to the Denver Nuggets, I thought that Rivers could have tried Patterson in spurts later in the series to provide spacing–but the fact that he never played after garbage time in game 1 suggests that Rivers never considered him an option.

All in all, Patterson did everything that can be asked of a minimum-salary depth veteran and played better than any fair expectation could have asked for.

Future with Clippers

That performance might be just the reason why he isn’t back with the Clippers next season. While Patterson isn’t a candidate for a big contract or starting role anywhere in the league, he certainly seems to have played well enough to earn a look from any team that could use a floor-spacing big on their second unit.

With Patterson’s non-bird rights, the Clippers can offer him a contract starting at just under $3.1M. It’s unlikely that other teams will offer Patterson much more than that–in fact, it could end up being his only above-minimum offer–but what the Clippers can’t offer him is minutes. At 31 years old, it would make sense for Patterson to try and leverage his performance last year into a bigger role on a one-year deal for another team this year and potentially attempt to earn one more real NBA contract next off-season. If he comes back to LA, he’ll spend a lot of time on the bench again, limiting his ability to build his value.

But if he can be convinced to return, it would be great for both the Clippers’ depth and continuity. Patterson gives Rivers a stylistically consistent replacement for Morris or Green at PF, which could come into play if either is injured but also if they slide to other positions. Morris is comfortable at either forward position, and could see occasional time at SF next season when Leonard misses back-to-backs for load management or even find regular second-unit minutes bringing his offensive punch when the starters are out. Green, on the other hand, slides to center at times and could feature there throughout the year either to provide injury depth or as a situational option depending on who the team’s backup center is going into next season.

The Clippers have two options in terms of contracts for Patterson: they can offer him the aforementioned non-bird deal starting at $3.1M, or they can offer him a new veteran’s minimum contract at nearly $2.6M. It’s clear which Patterson would prefer, but the two options carry different perks from LA’s perspective.

Veteran’s minimum contracts benefit teams because a portion of the player’s salary is reimbursed by the league. This means that the Clippers would only be on the hook for $1.6M of Patterson’s $2.6M, saving not only some cash but helping them navigate the luxury tax threshold and hard cap apron, both of which could come into play this off-season. And just as teams can always exceed the cap to sign a minimum-salary player, they can also always add a minimum-salary player via trade–meaning that if the Clippers need help facilitating at next year’s deadline, Patterson’s minimum-salary deal would count as outgoing salary for LAC but not incoming salary for their trade partner.

But in any trade the Clippers make at the deadline, they’re more likely to be piecing together salary to bring in a larger contract. That means that the bigger salary for Patterson would provide more filler in a deal, so paying him more could actually be better for the team. If he doesn’t bolt for more money or a better role elsewhere, it would be great for the Clippers to have him back on the bench next season.

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Lucas Hann

Lucas Hann

Lucas has covered the Clippers since 2011, and has been credentialed by the team since 2014. He co-founded 213Hoops with Robert Flom in January 2020.  He is a graduate of Saugus High School in Santa Clarita, CA and St. John's University in Queens, NY.  He earned his MA in Communication and Rhetorical Studies from Syracuse University.

31 Comments

  • Avatar Alan Ng says:

    The disrespect.

    Why isn’t there a picture of Patterson on his own article?

    • Lucas Hann Lucas Hann says:

      Thanks for the catch. To make this article, I created a duplicate of yesterday’s Morris article to keep the exit interview formatting and just replace the paragraphs, and forgot to swap out the picture of Morris we used yesterday for a picture of Patterson.

  • Avatar mlslaw1 says:

    He’s got a really good shot, a very repeatable motion and doesn’t force anything. He’s worth a serious look and, if signed, a better opportunity. Also agree that he seems to have his head on straight and expresses himself well.

    • Avatar Killaclip says:

      We are probably better off developing younger guys like Motley and Kabengele. If he wasn’t trusted to get a chance this post season due to coaching it won’t matter next season

      • Lucas Hann Lucas Hann says:

        I don’t think the two are mutually exclusive. Kabengele is gonna get developed during the off-season, in camp, with Agua Caliente, etc. (Motley, on the other hand, is probably not going to be with the team next year. He is out of two-way eligibility and hasn’t shown enough at 25 years old, in my opinion, for a spot on the 15-man roster.)

        If Patterson gets his same 800 minutes as last year, it could end up mattering a lot for seeding and continuity purposes that we have a sturdy and reliable veteran in those 800 minutes instead of a prospect who looks like he’s miles behind adequate in terms of NBA defense and strength. It’s a shame we didn’t get to see Fi in Summer League this year but with any luck the NBA will pull off the rumored November/December G-League bubble tournament and we can catch his games there. God forbid we have a major injury to one of our forwards, but Patterson could see way more than 800 minutes in that case and we’d be lucky to have him.

        Plus, here’s how I look at it: Patterson is a known quantity. Solid, but unexciting. Pretty squarely replacement-level, right? (The advanced metrics suggest he was slightly better than replacement-level last year) If Kabengele can’t beat Patterson out for minutes, then he doesn’t deserve minutes. I feel the same about getting a more experienced minimum-salary point guard (like Raul Neto, or someone else, doesn’t particularly matter) in to compete with Mann. If Terance isn’t good enough that he’s better than Neto, then we’ll be glad we have Neto around. Same for Fi and Pat.

        • Avatar TheGreatestShowman says:

          I’m going to save and repost this every time the FiMann crowd starts up.

          • Avatar chogokin says:

            Do we even have a dedicated FIMann clique here? I’ve called for throwing Mann out there there before, but pretty much only when we saw the bad version of Reggie. Fi on the other hand, I….have no idea about. Hard to really form an opinion on him when we only see him in garbage time.

        • Avatar Based Freestyle says:

          “If Kabengele can’t beat Patterson out for minutes, then he doesn’t deserve minutes.”

          That’s unfair to Fi. It’s not his fault that his coach is a stubborn fool who only trusts veteran players and his favorites.

          • Lucas Hann Lucas Hann says:

            I’m not someone who can be called a Doc apologist (I’ve repeatedly said he should be fired for his playoff coaching this year), but I have never bought this argument. Is there anyone from his Clipper tenure who we look back on and go “damn, he really should have played this young guy but he didn’t”? The issue is probably more that he went his entire time as coach/GM without drafting a single NBA player.

            But he came in and immediately moved DeAndre from 24.5 minutes to 35.0 minutes. The only Lob City young guy who became an NBA caliber player was Reggie Bullock, and Doc gave him a few hundred minutes in each of his first two seasons and he wasn’t ready yet. Austin Rivers also came in still at prospect age (22) and played a lot and was very good for the Clippers.

            Other than that, Maalik Wayns, Jared Cunningham, CJ Wilcox, Branden Dawson, Brice Johnson, Diamond Stone–none of them played very much and Doc Rivers was fully justified in not playing any of them very much. A contending team shouldn’t burn hundreds of regular season minutes on guys who clearly are not NBA-caliber players.

            Post-Lob City, when he didn’t have title expectations, he played young guys! In 2018, 1300 minutes for Montrezl Harrell, 1200 for Sindarius Thornwell, 900 for Sam Dekker, 850 for Ty Wallace (played a ton per game but games limited by his two-way deal), 800 for Jawun Evans. By the way, Thornwell, Dekker, Wallace, and Evans all have gone on to not break through as rotation guys anywhere else since leaving LAC. The only young guys who didn’t play in 2017-18 was Brice Johnson, who, again, was terrible. Bad drafting, not bad rotations.

            In ’18-’19, he played SGA–the first legitimate prospect on the Clippers since Doc came to the team–big minutes and started him 73 times, even at the cost of alienating veteran Milos Teodosic, who was so upset about being cut out of the rotation that he stopped showing up to practice. Even Patrick Beverley had to come off the bench! When the young guy deserved it, Doc stood up to his vets. When the team got Landry Shamet and Ivica Zubac at the trade deadline, both became instant starters and good significant minutes, even though Zubac’s time meant cutting out of the rotation (and then buying out) veteran Marcin Gortat.

            The young guys Rivers didn’t commit major minutes to in ’18-’19? Jerome Robinson, Johnathan Motley, Sindarius Thornwell, Angel Delgado. Even Ty Wallace played 10 minutes a night in 62 games despite not being able to re-capture his magic from his breakout first season.

            And this past year, while Fi didn’t break through, Rivers clearly let young guys improve their stock–for example, 27th overall pick Kabengele was left home while 48th overall pick Terance Mann and undrafted Amir Coffey both not only got to come to the bubble, but Mann was used as a situational defender in the playoffs over Rodney McGruder, a veteran known for his defense.

            If Fi gets traded and immediately steps in as a starter for another team, I’ll say the Clippers were foolish to not play him and give up on him so early. But big G-League numbers don’t negate that both in the summer league and his few NBA chances, he’s looked totally lost defensively and too weak to play against NBA bigs. I’m not going to assume that random prospects are NBA caliber players just because they haven’t been run out for rotation minutes they aren’t ready for. Most guys don’t became good NBA players, there can be a middle ground where we like and root for LAC’s prospects without misplacing faith in them.

    • lying dog-faced pony soldier lying dog-faced pony soldier says:

      “expresses himself well.” Unusually well for a pro athlete.

  • lying dog-faced pony soldier lying dog-faced pony soldier says:

    I was a Patterson fan all year and for the life of me couldn’t understand why Doc didn’t use him (and a couple others) in the playoffs. The Clippers’ vaunted “depth” didn’t amount to a warm bucket of spit when it counted. I’ve enjoyed watching four teams going at it in the conference finals that are all better than the severely mismanaged Clippers. To use a horse racing analogy, the owner and front office all performed and put Doc in the saddle of a purebred champion, and in the stretch he ran it straight off the track into the infield pond.

  • Avatar David Ramos says:

    I wished Doc used Pat instead of trez. Imagne the spacing. Also I said this all year and am sticking to it. We needed a point guard. Kawhi shoud have not been are primary ball handler during the playoffs. I believe a soid pg would of made a huge difference. Im sticking to this assumption. Dont care what anyone says.

  • Avatar Edu Beker says:

    Pat Pat, the latest victim of the loyalty-system run by Doc Rivers.

  • Avatar KingAlfonse says:

    PatPat Also arguably winningest off the court player on the team w/ his SO.