The Timberwolves will pass on Justin Patton‘s third-year option for the 2019/20 season, putting the young center on track to become an unrestricted free agent next summer, according to Shams Charania and Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic (Twitter link).
Patton, 21, has been plagued by injuries since entering the NBA as the 16th overall pick in the 2017 draft. Acquired by the Timberwolves on draft night as part of their Jimmy Butler blockbuster with the Bulls, Patton broke his left foot in a workout before even getting a chance to play for Minnesota’s Summer League team.
After initially undergoing surgery on his left foot last July, Patton underwent a follow-up procedure in April, then broke a bone in his right foot in September and had surgery to repair that injury. As a result of his constant health problems, Patton has appeared in just one game for the Wolves, making his NBA debut on April 1. He played four minutes in that contest.
If Minnesota had exercised Patton’s 2019/20 option, it would have guaranteed his $3,117,240 cap hit for that season. By declining the option, the Wolves now won’t be permitted to offer a starting salary larger than that amount if they change course and want to retain the big man next July.
As our tracker shows, Patton is the fourth player confirmed to have his 2019/20 rookie scale option declined, joining Dragan Bender (Suns), Henry Ellenson (Pistons), and Malachi Richardson (Raptors). A handful of other players, including Marquese Chriss (Rockets) are also still at risk of having their options turned down.