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Thunder sign 2017 No. 16 pick Justin Patton for reported $700K guaranteed

Justin Patton was drafted No. 16 just two years ago.

Players selected that high are rarely available in free agency so quickly.

The only other recent one was Georgios Papagiannis. The No. 13 pick in the 2016 draft, Papagiannis got waived by the Kings during his second season.

Patton started his career with the Timberwolves then got traded to the 76ers during his second season in the Jimmy Butler deal. Philadelphia waived him late last season to sign Greg Monroe for the playoffs.

Now, the Thunder are adding Patton, who was deemed a top young talent just a couple years ago.

That’s a surprisingly large guarantee for Patton. So much has gone wrong for him since being drafted.

He has played just four games, breaking his foot before both his rookie and second seasons. The NBA has also gone away from limited centers like him.

But for a minimum contract, this is a low-risk bet for Oklahoma City.

The Thunder had to sign someone else after buying out Patrick Patterson. That replacement player was always going to push them into the luxury tax. They have until the final day of the regular season to get out of it. They surely will, whether that involves waiving Patton’s partially guaranteed contract or some other method.

This guarantee indicates Patton will likely make the regular-season roster. Paying Patton $700,000 not to make the team would only increase the challenge of escaping the tax.