The Minnesota Timberwolves have agreed to send their only first round selection, 18th overall, to the Houston Rockets in exchange for swingman Chase Budinger and the rights to Lior Eliyahu, a 26 year old Israeli prospect. Budinger, 24, is an athletic and versatile small forward who can shoot the ball well from deep (40% last season) and has proven to be a great fit in Rick Adelman’s system when Adelman coached Houston during his rookie season. He even dropped 35 points on our Pups during the 2011 season finale.
The reactions to the trade so far have been mixed, but the face remains that there would not have been a player available at 18 who is currently as good as Budinger. Chase is a team-oriented guy who operates efficiently without the ball and provides tough perimeter defense, and the Pups have until Saturday to pick up a team option for Budinger which would pay him only $942,000 for this season. His low salary results from his contract as a former second round pick and he gives the Twolves even more flexibility in free agency than they would have had if they had taken a player in the first round of the draft. Minnesota still owns the 58th overall pick in Thursday’s draft, but don’t be surprised if they use it on an international player who will spend the next few years overseas.
Photo Credits: Thestar.com