Its been a busy summer for Lancaster product and former Pitt Panther Lamar Patterson. Patterson was drafted in the second round of the 2014 NBA Draft by the Milwaukee Bucks and then traded to the Atlanta Hawks. He participated in summer league in Las Vegas with Atlanta and is now focused on making the team this fall.
"I'm working on my game," he said, "and praying (the Hawks) have a roster spot for me," Patterson said while taking a time out from his basketball camp to speak to Lancaster Online's Ed Gruver. When pushed further Patterson indicated that he was working on all facets of his game.
Will his hard work pay off though? Patterson had an up and down summer league averaging 6.0 points while shooting just 34 percent from the field and 26 percent from three-point range. That is a small sample size and he did show good tenacity and exhibited many of the competitive qualities that Danny Ferry and Mike Budenholzer like. However, he may be facing a numbers game in regards to Atlanta's roster.
Atlanta currently has 12 players under contract for next season including Mike Muscala's partially guaranteed deal. They have an agreemient in place with free agent Kent Bazemore although his signing has not yet been formerly announced. Mike Scott is a restricted free agent and reportedly considering his options but indications are that Atlanta is trying to keep him.
If Scott comes back and Muscala stays on the roster then Atlanta is at 14 players and just one shy of the 15 maximum. Atlanta upgraded its wing depth this offseason but could potentially have the need for another big body with their final roster spot. Elton Brand is currently an unrestricted free agent and appeared in 73 games for the Hawks last season. He would add depth again to a center position that features Al Horford who is returning from injury, Pero Antic and Muscala.
If Atlanta does opt for a big man then Patterson could be ushered to Europe in the same manner that Muscala was last season. The Hawks drafted Muscala in the second round of the 2013 NBA Draft out of Bucknell and he went to summer league with the club but then signed to play in the Spanish ACB to continue his development. Muscala put up a strong showing in Spain and the Hawks negotiated a buyout and signed him after they were hit with a rash of injuries at the center position.
Its something to keep an eye on with Patterson the closer we get to training camp. Ferry saw something in him or the team wouldn't have opted to make the draft day trade. Still Europe looks like it might ultimately be the best option and one where Patterson could continue to develop for a possible NBA future.