Not every deal at the NBA trade deadline is going to be a blockbuster. Sometimes, teams just need to make minor moves for bookkeeping purposes. That seems to be the case here, as the Dallas Mavericks have traded Isaiah Roby to the Oklahoma City Thunder in exchange for Justin Patton and cash considerations, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic.
Patton isn't long for Dallas, though. This move was made in order to clear a roster spot, according to Tim Cato of The Athletic. Roby, the No. 45 overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, signed a three-year deal with the Mavericks that is guaranteed through the 2020-21 campaign. Patton, on the other hand, has a contract with no guarantees whatsoever beyond this season. Making this swap now allows the Mavericks to clear the roster spot that they wanted to clear without eating Roby's salary for next season.
So what is Dallas going to do with that roster spot? In all likelihood, they will use it to bring in a center. Their former starter at center, Dwight Powell, ruptured his Achilles tendon earlier this week and is out for the season. The Mavericks have already spoken to Joakim Noah about replacing Powell, according to Tim MacMahon of ESPN, and Dallas could still find someone else on the trade market.
In exchange for taking on that year of extra guaranteed salary, the Thunder get a prospect in Roby who has looked promising in the G League so far this season. He was averaging nine points and seven rebounds per game with the Texas Legends. Patton had also spent most of this season in the G League and recently had a career-game there while playing for the Oklahoma City Blue. He nearly earned a triple-double by scoring 45 points, pulling down 13 rebounds and dishing out nine assists against the South Bay Lakers last week.
Patton will likely garner interest if he is indeed waived. He was the No. 16 pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, but a combination of injuries and poor play led to the Philadelphia 76ers (who acquired him from the Minnesota Timberwolves) waiving him after only three games last season. The promise he has shown at the G League level will only help his cause, though, so he should be able to find a new home relatively quickly.