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Tuesday, July 31, 2001
Patterson signs offer sheet with Blazers

Ruben Patterson

SEATTLE -- Ruben Patterson, the No. 3 scorer for the Seattle SuperSonics, signed an offer sheet with the Portland Trail Blazers on Monday.

Patterson has pleaded guilty to a sexual offense and recently served a 15-day sentence on home detention. If he would have stayed with the Sonics, he would have had to register as a sex offender in Washington state.

But an Oregon state police spokeswoman said Patterson still would be required to register in Oregon. The spokeswoman said Patterson is required to notify Washington that he will register in his new state within 10 days of becoming a resident there. If Patterson does not register within the 10 days, he will become a C felon for failing to register as a criminal. Patterson also must re-register every year within 10 days of his birth date.

The Sonics could have matched the Blazers' offer because the 6-foot-5 forward was a restricted free agent. But they chose not to sign him to a sign-and-trade deal.

"The Sonics have no intention of exercising our matching rights on this offer," Seattle general manager Rick Sund said. "This will clear additional cap room space for the Sonics to pursue free agents. Ruben has made on-court contributions to the Sonics in the past two seasons and we wish him well."

Sund told The Associated Press in an interview later Monday that the Sonics never intended to sign and trade Patterson, a three-year veteran who was drafted 31st by the Los Angeles Lakers in 1998.

Sund said Patterson's departure was actually an advantage.

"We've decided that the best situation is the free agent market and this gives us more financial room," Sund said. "If we sign a free agent in the near future for next season, then it's a pretty good tradeoff."

Patterson's off-court troubles were certainly a factor in his leaving the Sonics.

"We said from the beginning that there was an issue," Sund said.

The Sonics missed making the playoffs last season with a 44-38 record. Since the end of the season, center Patrick Ewing, guard Emanual Davis, forward Jelani McCoy and now Patterson have left.

Also Monday, the team waived forward Ruben Wolkowyski, a power forward from Argentina who was highly touted by the Sonics but had trouble adjusting to the NBA game. He played one season, averaging 2.2 points in limited playing time.

In the NBA draft in June, the team added forward Vladimir Radmanovic, guard Earl Watson and center Predrag Drobnjak.

The Sonics are looking for a starting center in free agency to replace Ewing.

"We're looking primarily at frontcourt players," Sund said.

All-Star point guard Gary Payton and former All-Star power forward Vin Baker remain on the Sonics' roster, but that could change.

"Nobody on our team is an untouchable," Sund said.

Patterson averaged 13.1 points, 5.0 rebounds and 27.1 minutes a game last season.

He is from Cleveland and also spoke with the Cavaliers.

Patterson entered a modified guilty plea to a third-degree rape charge involving his children's nanny. He was charged with forcing the family's 24-year-old nanny to perform oral sex. He was sentenced May 15 and still faces a civil suit from the nanny.

Under his plea, Patterson did not admit guilt but agreed a jury might convict him.

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