According to of David Baumann of CBS Sports, the Orlando Magic are interested in restricted free agent forward Patrick Patterson. In four NBA seasons, Patterson has played with the Houston Rockets, Sacramento Kings, and most recently, the Toronto Raptors. Last season, Patterson averaged 9.1 points and 5.1 rebounds for the Raptors.
Patterson is an interesting player for the Magic. I’ve been puzzled about why Orlando is attached to all of these power forwards recently, but there are two things at play here. The first is financial, the Orlando Magic were under $40 million dollars entering free agency. Then, they cut Doron Lamb, didn’t offer E’Twaun Moore a qualifying offer, and let go of Jameer Nelson. The selections of Aaron Gordon and Elfrid Payton will cost a pretty penny, and the recent Ben Gordon signing gives them an additional $4.5 million, but the Magic will still need to add some salary to hit the cap floor.
The second is simple- Patrick Patterson is a good, young player, who actually fits what Orlando needs. Patterson is just 25-years-old, which makes me feel a bit old. Magic general manager Rob Hennigan has said he wants that balance between young players and veterans, and Patterson fits that middle area. Patterson’s four seasons of NBA experience would be the third most on the Magic’s roster, right behind Gordon and Willie Green, whom the team claimed off of waivers on Monday. Having guys who understand the NBA day-to-day, as well as teaching rookies to be professional, will certainly help the roster.
As for the fit, Patterson can shoot the ball. He’s known for his mid-range game, but the former Kentucky Wildcat has begun to shoot more from beyond the arc. Last season, Patterson shot 47.5 percent from 10 to 16 feet, and shot 36.7 percent from three, via sports-reference.com. Digging a bit deeper, Patterson shot 43 percent from the left corner and 56 percent from the left side, via NBA.com. Not many players on the Orlando Magic can do that, and that spacing would be huge for an Orlando team that doesn’t have much of that now.
Personally, I like the idea of a Patterson-Vucevic frontcourt. Neither are great defenders, but Nikola could absorb a ton of rebounds, which is Patterson’s weakness. Both can shoot from mid-range (Patterson shot 41%, Vucevic shot 44%) which could creating some interesting pick and pop opportunities for the team. Vucevic has also worked well with Kyle O’Quinn, who can serve as a rim protector in stretches, and would undoubtedly work next to Patterson as well. Even with his poor defense, the Magic have Victor Oladipo, Elfrid Payton, and Maurice Harkless on the perimeter, opposing teams will have trouble manufacturing offense anyway.
Again, I think Patterson is a good player, but as a restricted free agent, the Magic would have to pay a bit extra for Patterson’s services. Something like a three-year, $22 million deal or something in that area sounds about right to me. That being said, the Magic have a ton of forwards, and adding another forward into a stable of guys seems like a poor idea, even with little money tied up into future cap. Ben Gordon is a solid buy-low option, but another stable shooter or point guard would be a better addition. However, if the Magic do add Patterson, he would serve as an excellent fit on the roster as a floor spacer and mid-range shooter.