Former University of Kentucky basketball star Patrick Patterson has been assigned to play for the Houston Rockets' NBA Developmental League affiliate, the Rio Grande Valley Vipers.
Patterson, a lottery pick in the 2010 NBA Draft, has yet to play in a regular-season game for the Rockets. The club has kept Patterson on its inactive list through all six of its games this season.
General Manager Daryl Morey told InsideHoops.com the team is too deep at Patterson's power forward/center position to make playing time for the rookie.
"Patrick is making tremendous strides in practice, and coach is very comfortable that he could help us win in the NBA right now," Morey said. "However, our depth at the big spot with Yao Ming, Luis Scola, Brad Miller, Jordan Hill and Chuck Hayes means there is no playing time available. We believe strongly that players improve best by playing in games, and the upcoming stretch presented a timely opportunity for Patrick to join Vipers training camp."
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Patterson is expected to begin practicing with the Vipers on Wednesday. He will be reunited on the McAllen, Texas-based team with former UK teammate Ramon Harris, who was signed by the Vipers last week.
Patterson averaged 4.3 points, 3.8 rebounds and 15.2 minutes in six games for the Rockets during the pre-season.
"We will accordingly track Patrick's development closely and feel that this is a vital process in his overall maturation," said Vipers General Manager Gersson Rosas, who is also the Rockets' vice president of player personnel.
Patterson played three seasons at Kentucky before entering the draft. He averaged 16.1 points, 8.2 rebounds and 1.57 blocks in 97 games at Kentucky. He was one of five Wildcats picked in the opening round of the draft.
The NBA Development League develops not only players, but referees, coaches and front-office staff for the NBA. At the conclusion of the 2009-10 season, 20 percent of players in the NBA had D-League experience.
The league's 10th season tips off Nov. 18.