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Patterson waived; guard to be added

Times Staff Writer

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- The Clippers on Thursday waived veteran forward Ruben Patterson, whose contract was set to become fully guaranteed Saturday, and were expected to sign guard Richie Frahm to a non-guaranteed contract.

“We had a guarantee day coming up under contract for Ruben and we just felt we needed the flexibility -- in case one of our point guards went down -- that we would be able to bring somebody in,” Coach Mike Dunleavy said.

Dunleavy added that the move was also made to give rookie Al Thornton additional playing time.

“I think he is ready for more minutes,” he said. “He had some great practices for us, and we feel like if he gets consistent minutes, we’ll have to live with some mistakes, but overall the guy was our leading scorer in preseason.”

Frahm, who attended Gonzaga, was waived by the Phoenix Suns shortly before the season began and is expected to give the Clippers’ outside shooting a boost.

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But Frahm’s tenure with the Clippers could be a brief one. The team is concerned about the health of its point guards, particularly Sam Cassell, who has sat out the last eight games because of a calf injury.

The NBA roster limit is 15 and the Clippers’ maneuverability has been restricted because, although sidelined by injuries, Elton Brand and Shaun Livingston still count against the number.

Patterson was the only Clipper whose salary was not guaranteed. He was set to make $770,610 if the Clippers kept him past this week.

He came off a career year for the Milwaukee Bucks, when he averaged career highs in points at 14.7 and rebounds with 4.7.

Patterson, 6 feet 5 and 223 pounds, is considered an undersized forward but an aggressive defender. He started five of the Clippers’ 21 games, including the season opener against the Golden State Warriors when he was charged with the task of defending Warriors point guard Baron Davis.

Patterson averaged 5.1 points, 3.2 rebounds and 1.2 rebounds in 16.4 minutes.

He had well-documented issues with some of his past organizations but seemed to fit in well with his Clippers teammates.

“He was just more a casualty of the situation,” Dunleavy said. “We don’t think we can lock in that 15th spot with the situation we’ve had at the point guard spot with injuries. We have to be flexible.

“With Sam being out this length of time, we are saying to ourselves what would happen if Brevin [Knight] or Dan [Dickau] went down?”

Cassell already suffered through an injury plagued 2006-07 season. Knight, who has started in his absence, has had past injury problems.

Frahm is expected to suit up tonight against the Memphis Grizzlies. If still on the team, his contract would become guaranteed Jan. 10.

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The first returns of the NBA All-Star balloting were released with Chris Kaman seventh among Western Conference centers with 40,256 votes.

TONIGHT

at Memphis, 5 PST, Channel 5

Site -- FedEx Forum.

Radio -- 710.

Records -- Clippers 8-13, Grizzlies 6-15.

Record vs. Grizzlies (2006-07) -- 3-0.

Update -- Rudy Gay averages a team-best 18.7 points for the Grizzlies, who are on a five-game losing streak.

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jonathan.abrams@latimes.com


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