Wessel: Chase Budinger happy to be reunited with Rick Adelman
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MINNEAPOLIS -- Chase Budinger is excited to a member of the Minnesota Timberwolves, not only to be reunited with head coach Rick Adelman, but to play for a team that he called "the new Oklahoma (City Thunder)."
"It's a young team, a lot of young, great, athletic-type players," Budinger said at his introductory press conference Wednesday at Target Center. "And I feel that everybody on this team could really get better together and really win a championship down the road. And then also, I'm very happy to be coached by Coach Adelman here."
The Wolves sent the No. 18 pick in Thursday's draft to the Houston Rockets to acquire Budinger in a move that Wolves president of basketball operations David Kahn called a "very easy decision to make."
Budinger spent his first two seasons as a Houston Rocket under Adelman before playing last season for former Wolves coach and general manger Kevin McHale.
Budinger -- while choosing his words carefully -- had nothing bad to say about McHale, but made it clear he feels much more comfortable in Adelman's system. That system gives him more freedom to run the floor, move without the ball and, of course, be the knock-down three-point shooter the Wolves so sorely needed.
"I felt last year I was standing a lot in corners and not moving, which wasn't to my strengths," Budinger said. "I feel playing for Coach Adelman in his system really brings out the strengths in me because of my cutting ability, getting to the basket and coming off screens."
Said Adelman: "He has been a solid player for all three years. I think he will really help our group with those abilities he has. I see his game getting better and there is a lot more he can do and we are going to give him the opportunity to do that."
Adelman said that Budinger can play both the shooting guard and small forward position -- the two biggest positions of need after the Wolves missed the playoffs for the seventh consecutive season.
"He's very versatile, and that's what we like. He's going to be a good addition to this group," Adelman said, adding that he expects Budinger to continue to improve on defense, especially if they plan to use him on quicker guards.
Budinger said he didn't see the trade coming, but Kahn made it clear he had long been on the team's radar.
The ball started rolling for the deal while leaving a draft workout in Chicago when Kahn told Rockets general manager Daryl Morey that the Wolves were interested in the fourth-year player out of Arizona.
Adelman approached Kahn earlier in the week after a phone call he had received that made it clear the Rockets would be willing to deal for Budinger before the draft.
"We had another meeting that afternoon, talked to (owner) Glen (Taylor) that evening, and recommended that this is the approach we should take," Kahn said.
Adelman spent the final month of last season bemoaning the lack of effort from his players while the injuries multiplied and the losses piled up along with them. But lack of effort is something Adelman knows he won't have to worry about with Budinger.
Adelman said Budinger expected to be selected much higher than the 44th overall pick in the 2009 draft and he came into camp with a chip on his shoulder.
"What I really liked about him is his work ethic," Adelman said. "He proved people wrong. He's going to bring a work ethic to this team that we like in the way he approaches the game."
Adelman doesn't like talking about starting lineups during the season, so it came as no surprise when he downplayed a question about whether Budinger is a player who can start right away for this team.
But Adelman did make it clear that Budinger will be a big part of this team in 2012-13.
"I have complete confidence if he's in the game at the end of the game, he's going to make big plays for us," Adelman said. "I think that stuff is going to work itself out."
Budinger said he is friends with Wolves All-Star Kevin Love from playing on the same high school club team, as well as working out together during the summer. Budinger also knows fellow University of Arizona Wildcat Derrick Williams.
But Budinger's eyes lit up the most when Adelman mentioned at one point during the 20-minute press conference the opportunity for him to be on the court with point guard Ricky Rubio.
"Just watching Ricky Rubio last year, all the things he did for the team was remarkable to see as a rookie," Budinger said. "It was unfortunate he got hurt, but he is a spectacular player and I can't wait to play with him. He will be able to get me a lot of shots."