Last summer the Minnesota Timberwolves traded for Chase Budinger with hopes that the athletic forward with the nice shooting stroke could bring some stability to their bench behind Andrei Kirilenko. Although the move didn’t go exactly as planned, that doesn’t mean the Timberwolves should let a player of Budinger’s caliber walk away in free agency.
Budinger missed the majority of the 2012-2013 season with Minnesota due to a knee injury, limiting him to only 23 games. But when he was healthy enough to be in the rotation, Budinger produced in typical fashion as he has throughout his brief four-year career. On the season, he averaged 9.4 points and 3.1 rebounds in about 22 minutes of playing time, right in line with his career numbers during his days with the Houston Rockets of 9.4 points and 3.4 rebounds.
What was missing was Budinger’s jump shot. Budinger shot .363 from three-point range over his first three NBA seasons, but that number took a plunge down to a career-low .321 this year. Budinger’s lack of accuracy could possibly be attributed to him missing so much time during the season, so it should be viewed as more of an anomaly than a concern.
Kirilenko has a player option on his deal for season, but whether or not he returns, the Timberwolves should re-sign Budinger. Budinger has a good relationship with returning head coach Rick Adelman and he only made $885,000 thousand last season, meaning that any contract he gets shouldn’t cripple Minnesota financially.
Wing shooters with Budinger’s size — he’s a legit 6’7″ — and athletic ability are an underrated commodity in free agency, and given the Timberwolves familiarity with Budinger, keeping him around should be an easy call.