As has long believed to be the case, Patrick Patterson and the Raptors have reportedly decided to go their separate ways this summer. The 28-year-old multi-use forward quietly agreed to a three year deal with the Oklahoma City Thunder worth $16.4 million last night. Per usual, Woj has the details and the scoop:
Free agent forward Patrick Patterson has agreed to a three-year, $16.4M deal with the Oklahoma City Thunder, league sources tell ESPN.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) July 5, 2017
Deal includes player option on the third year, league sources tell ESPN. Patterson gets a starting job on contender in a tough marketplace. https://t.co/RsRCa4sR1G— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) July 5, 2017
Now, I know what you’re thinking: it was time. Patterson notched three and a half seasons in Toronto after, yes, the Rudy Gay trade in late 2013. While he was instrumental in stabilizing the Raptors’ bench unit, providing a versatile defensive presence, and offering outside shooting from the 4-spot, the arc of his growth had stalled. And, sadly, as Toronto got deeper into the playoffs, Patterson’s presence on the team seemed to shrink — just compare his numbers from 2014 to this past May. Something had grown a tad off; again, it was not surprising to see Toronto and Patterson decide to move on from each other.
Patterson goes now to a Thunder team in desperate need of a starting power forward, a role he was never quite able to hold down in Toronto. With the loss of Taj Gibson, Patterson will slot in next to starter Steven Adams, and presumably get time with Enes Kanter (OKC’s version of Jonas Valanciunas). Playing off of two ball-dominant players in Paul George and Russell Westbrook won’t be much of a change for Patterson; he’ll still be asked to shoot and defend and play within himself on the margins. It’s a decent fit for both player and team, and one hopes Patterson can re-discover himself a little bit in Oklahoma City.
Patterson will always find himself mentioned in that rare group of NBA players who do a lot to help a team, win even if the specific contributions can’t be nailed down exactly. Patterson shot above 36 percent from 3 his entire time with the Raptors, and his basketball IQ was never in question. These were things to which you could point to explain Patterson’s value. More simply, as the Athletic’s Eric Koreen helpfully summarized this morning, when Patterson played, the Raptors played well:
When Patrick Patterson was on the floor, the Raptors were good. pic.twitter.com/pvFeHdqGra— (((Eric Koreen))) (@ekoreen) July 5, 2017
Patterson’s place on the Raptors seemed to match up with his personality. He came across as a cerebral person, a guy who definitely thought about his craft and how he used it (sometimes he thought too much). He had a diverse set of interests that would reveal themselves here and there when the moment called for it. I’ll miss hearing him chat about movies or the Toronto International Film Festival. Nary a bad word was uttered in the locker room about Patterson’s presence. It’s wild to consider now though that of the quartet of Patterson, Terrence Ross, James Johnson and Lucas Nogueira — who deemed them a close-knit sub-group on the team — only Bebe now remains. Times change.
My lasting memory of Patterson will always be from after Game 6 against the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2016’s Eastern Conference Final. The Raptors had just gotten blown out (again) and the most storied post-season run in franchise history was over. I was trying to talk to Johnson for one final Watch column. In that moment I leaned on what I thought was an empty chair. I eventually noticed however that Patterson was there, slumped over, towel draped over his head, buried in thought. He’d played 35 minutes that night, and scored nine points. He’d done his part.
It was clear however, that Patterson was wearing everything that had happened in that game, and perhaps every game, across his shoulders. I’ll miss him.