TORONTO - Just days after locking up star point guard Kyle Lowry, the team's top offseason priority, the Raptors are following suit with restricted free agent forward Patrick Patterson.
Although the deal cannot be made official until the free agent moratorium period is lifted on July 10, Patterson has agreed to a three-year, $18 million extension to remain in Toronto, sources confirm to TSN.ca Friday afternoon.
Patterson, 25, was acquired in the seven-player deal that sent Rudy Gay to Sacramento in December and played a significant role in the Raptors' resurgence last year. One of the league's premier reserves at his position following the trade, the fourth-year forward appeared in 48 games for Toronto, starting seven, and averaging 9.1 points, 5.1 rebounds while shooting 48 per cent from the field and 41 per cent from three-point range.
As a restricted free agent, the Raptors could have matched any offer Patterson received on the open market but retaining him was a priority for general manager Masai Ujiri and something he moved on quickly after agreeing to terms with Lowry late Wednesday night. Patterson figured to draw a fair amount of interest from teams around the league after jumpstarting his young career in Toronto.
Although he struggled to begin the year with the Kings, Patterson emerged as a versatile, two-way player that can stretch the floor at the power forward position. He became especially valuable as starter Amir Johnson began to wear down, battling a myriad of injuries late in the season. Patterson, often the first player off the bench last year, is expected to have a bigger role with the Raptors in 2014-15 and beyond.
Toronto had a record of 42-22 following the early-season trade that made Patterson a Raptor, finishing the campaign with a franchise-best 48 wins and division title en route to a seven-game, first round defeat in the playoffs.
Shortly after extending the contract of head coach Dwane Casey in May, Ujiri expressed his desire to keep his team, one that exceeded all expectations a year ago, together going forward.
"As far as I'm concerned, keeping our core group going forward, with Kyle Lowry, Greivis Vasquez and Patterson and Nando, those guys are priorities for us," the Raptors' GM had said. "And if you want to build, I think a team where we have young players, we have to build continuity. When free agency comes, we have to attack our guys first."
With that goal in mind the next order of business will be retaining Vasquez, also a restricted free agent, expected to be done soon.
In an effort to create the cap space required to complete a deal with the back-up point guard and perhaps add another piece while maintaining future flexibility and avoiding luxury tax penalties, the Raptors have also traded veteran sharpshooter Steve Novak to the Utah Jazz, reports Yahoo Sports.
Toronto will send a future second-round selection to the Jazz as a sweetener and take back the non-guarantted contract of guard Diante Garrett, who will be immediately waived, in order to unload the $7.2 million Novak is owed over the next two years.
After the Lowry and Patterson signings are made official and assuming guards Julyan Stone and Dwight Buycks are also waived (their deals are non-guaranteed if voided before July 7 and July 22 respectively), the Raptors will have roughly $62 million committed to 10 players under contract for next season, not including Vasquez, free agent guard Nando De Colo and rookies Bruno Caboclo, Lucas Nogueira or DeAndre Daniels.
Even after signing their rookies and inking Vasquez to a new deal, the Raptors should be able to use most of their mid-level exception to address another need on the roster and remain under the salary cap. Aided by the trade of Novak, Toronto should have max or near max cap space next summer, with only Lowry, Patterson, DeMar DeRozan, Jonas Valanciunas, Terrence Ross and this year's rookies on their books for the 2015-16 season.
Novak was acquired in the trade that sent Andrea Bargnani to New York a year ago. The 31-year-old forward and three-point shooting specialist averaged 3.3 points in 54 games with the Raptors last season, his eighth in the NBA.