Patterson’s Days Are Numbered In Portland But Purgatory Lies In Toronto For Him

By Gregory Moore
Updated: November 27, 2005

SAN ANTONIO – One of the worse things that could ever happen for any coach at any level is for a player to try and challenge his authority. Notice I used the word “try”. I look at what the Portland Trailblazers have become from the days when Rick Adelman had them to when Maurice Cheeks struggled with them to now and all I can say is, “Thank goodness Paul Allen found the easy button on this one”. Why am I celebrating a change in the Rose state? Why would a guy who has some deep allegiances to a Southwest division team wan to see Nate McMillan handle a young squad and bring the discipline, guidance and maturity to such a vagabond group on NBA players? Because somebody was needed who didn’t have any fear in dealing with the so-called roughnecks and McMillan has handled the roughest one of all in Ruben Patterson this past week. If you are counting down the days for when Patterson is told to stay the heck away from the Trailblazers, don’t hold your breath. This isn’t the NFL folks where that league stands for No Fools Allowed. This is the NBA and one of those monikers affectionately thrown around in sports media circles is No Babies Allowed. In this case, the pouting that Patterson decided to display a few games back will not be tolerated and as soon as things settle down, a trade is in order and he will be shipped out faster than he can report to his probation officer. And just where would he be shipped? Let’s try the Toronto Raptors.

Now I know what you’re thinking. I’ve lost my mind and I’ve lost you in the thought process on this conclusion, haven’t I? Well don’t fret because here’s how I see this happening. Ladies and gentlemen let me introduce you to a three-team trade and what I believe may be some parameters for this happening. So who would be the players in this trade, what would their salaries be and what are the other ‘extenuating’ parameters to such a deal? Well here’s how I think this would shake out. The teams involved would be Portland, New York and Toronto. Now the players that would be in that trade is the following: Malik Rose would go to Portland from New York in exchange for Patterson. Toronto would be the third team in that the Knicks would then send Patterson along with a player like Shandon Anderson plus $2 million in cash to the Raptors for Jalen Rose.

Interesting trade isn’t it? Now the question would be is if the trade would fit the rules of the NBA and I believe it would. Here’s a quick lesson on how all of this fits under the salary cap and such financial matters. In a trade, the salaries have to be within 10% of the total amount. So looking at the Malik Rose/Patterson trade, Rose is schedule to make $6 million this season. Patterson is scheduled to make $6.3 million. Okay here’s where it’s going to get tricky so pull out those Texas Instruments calculators. Ten percent of $6.3 million is $630,000. Ten percent of $6 million is $600,000. What’s the difference class? $30,000. Now by my math and understanding, that the trade by itself would hold up with no problems. Here comes the tricky part. I say that Jalen Rose doesn’t stay in Toronto but is moved to New York in a separate transaction between the Raptors and the Knicks. Now if that were the case, and keep in mind what I just explained to you about the salary match up rules under the collective bargaining agreement, here’s what I believe would have to happen. Jalen makes roughly $15 million this seasons compared to Patterson’s paltry $6.3 million. $8.4 million needs to be made up in order for this deal to be acceptable by the league and here’s where it would get interesting. Patterson and another player, say maybe a Shandon Anderson who makes $6.7 million plus cash considerations may be the way this works. That would mean that $2 million in cash would have to be thrown into the deal because Anderson’s and Patterson’s salary would only total up to $13 million.

Complicated as this may look and seem, I think that the Trailblazers need to at least explore the first option of this topic and trade for Malik Rose and send Patterson to the Knicks. My logic behind this move is that with Rose, McMillan gets a savvy veteran who has two championship rings and leadership presence that is exemplified by the hard work that he puts into his game. This would also move Patterson out of the organization and give Portland basically a clean bill of health as far as cancers in the locker room are concerned. Patterson’s recent behavior is something that this organization simply cannot deal with if it wants to succeed and it needs to figure out a way to move him expeditiously. Now many may say that I’m being very pigheaded in not seeing whether he would be able to conform to what the Trailblazers organization wants him to do. Well I’m sorry if it sounds a little bit presumptuous to some but let’s be real here, after the incident with Terrell Owens and the Philadelphia 76ers, does anyone really think that these sports organizations are going to sit back and let these spoiled athletes dictate their rules and regulations as it pertains to employment issues between a player and a head coach? Of course not. So why should Patterson get a free pass at screwing up again?

Let’s be perfectly clear on something. Ruben Patterson has some issues that go beyond McMillan and his coaching style. Patterson’s past suggests that he needs counseling of some sort. Anyone who has anger management issues needs counseling. He needs it because no ordinary man would have the audacity to snap at his boss during a crunch time like a basketball game in which he is getting paid to perform and follow instructions. The fact that Patterson’s further actions of complaining about his minutes and his role solidify the reasoning for a trade that sends him someplace where maybe a good dose of humble pie is in order. The time is now for this organization to finish cleaning house, set these players down the right path and to show everyone that the days of being called the Portland Jailblazers are over. For that transformation to take place, it will require that Ruben Patterson be shipped east and possibly north. That is the most logical course of action for this team at this time or else they will continue to have troubles and continue to have a revolving door on coaches and general managers.