MEMPHIS -- The Clippers today waived forward Ruben Patterson in a move aimed at creating roster flexibility.
The move does not necessarily mean the roster spot will be immediately filled. The organization is concerned over the lingering injury to point guard Sam Cassell, who has missed the last eight games because of a strained left calf, and may seek help at that position.
Patterson was the only Clipper whose salary was not guaranteed. His one-year contract of $770,610 would have become guaranteed on Saturday.
He is coming off a career year for the Milwaukee Bucks, where he averaged career highs in points at 14.7 and rebounds with 4.7.
Patterson, 6-foot-5 and 223 pounds, is considered an undersized forward but an aggressive defender.
He waited deep into the off-season, looking to sign a large free-agent contract, but found the market frigid.
Instead, he signed for the veteran's minimum with the Clippers after forward Elton Brand sustained his Achilles' tendon injury.
Patterson started five of the Clippers 21 games, including the season opener against the Golden State Warriors, when he was charged with the task of defending Warrior point guard Baron Davis.
A lot of observers consider Patterson a quintessential "energy guy" which, for me, has always been a euphemism for "can't really quantify his attributes." That "energy" manifested itself for me most visibly last night when Patterson tried to save the ball under the Charlotte basket...resulting in an easy Bobcat hoop. Examine his astronomical turnover rate of 18.1 and you'll see "energy" all over the data.
Given his absolute lack of offensive skills, you think it would be enough for Patterson to continue his winning formula of scoring without shooting -- namely, picking up garbage every five or so playing minutes for an easy bucket. That's how Patterson became a >.520 FG% shooter in this league. Unfortunately, this season he's been an unbridled basketball playing id. His FG% has dropped to .453. Though he can't hit a FT, he'll insist on working his way to the line on a 2-on-1 break rather than returning the ball to a teammate across the lane who can actually finish.
In any event, the Clippers just became a better basketball team, though one fears for those who might confront Patterson with his newfound free time. Those of you who communicate with a higher power should pray for their safety.
ADDENDUM: Please don't interpret this as anything other than what it is -- a cost-cutting move, and a smart one.
Answer these questions:
 Does the presence of Ruben Patterson on the roster help the Clippers achieve their goals for success this season?
 Does the presence of Ruben Patterson on the roster impede the progress of Al Thornton, a player who plays the same position as Patterson?
 Is the presence of Ruben Patterson on the roster worth about $575,000?
"Then why did they pick him up in the first place before the season?!"
Why not? Maybe the addition of Ruben Patterson will be the magic bullet that allows the Clippers to hang out in the #8/#9 race until spring. Then Elton comes back, etc, etc. And you know what? If he doesn't add anything, then we can always cut him before December 15. Nothing lost.
I know these teams are awash in cash, but it's still over half a million dollars -- which buys a lot of legal work.