The Minnesota Timberwolves and Houston Rockets have agreed to a trade that will send guard/forward Chase Budinger to Minnesota in exchange for the 18th overall pick in Thursday night’s draft. The deal now gives the Rockets the 14th, 16th and 18th overall picks as they may be looking to make a deal for Dwight Howard. The Rockets have also sent the rights to Israeli forward Lior Eliyahu, who was the 44th overall pick in the 2006 NBA Draft and is 26 years old. Eliyahu is currently under contract with his team in Israel, but there is an NBA out in the deal and he is expected to play for the Timberwolves in Las Vegas this summer.
Budinger fits the Timberwolves’ need for a wing player and he played each of his first three NBA seasons with the Rockets after being acquired in a draft day trade when he was selected in the second round (44th overall) by the Detroit Pistons in 2009. Current Timberwolves head coach Rick Adelman was the Rockets’ head coach for Budinger’s first two seasons with the team, so there is familiarity on both sides and explains the interest Minnesota had as it can be assumed Adelman endorsed the move.
Budinger has been predominantly a bench player thus far in his NBA career, starting 35 of 210 career games, as has yet to average even 10 points per game in any of those three seasons. But he did set a career-best by making just over 40 percent of his three-pointers last season and has made 81 percent of free throws during his career as well. At the very least he can provide a solid player in an area of need for the Timberwolves, even if he has shown limited upside to this point in his career.
Budinger had his contract option for the 2012-2013 season picked up by the Rockets this spring and he is due to make just over $885,000, so his salary definitely made him attractive to some degree. He would seem suited to a bench role barring something unforeseen and who knows what Eliyahu can bring at this stage, so it looks like the Timberwolves should have gotten more in return for a first round pick. Another move by president of basketball operations David Kahn looks likely, as the team now has a plethora of players that play the same position and have similar things to offer-Budinger, Michael Beasley, Martell Webster and Wesley Johnson. Perhaps collecting swingmen is Kahn’s new hobby after he collected point guards early in his tenure. Webster does have a $5.7 million team option for next season, but that cost alone makes it unlikely he will be back with the Timberwolves without taking a pay cut.