Wessel: Acquiring Chase Budinger a step in right direction for Wolves
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The Minnesota Timberwolves front office got it right with the first move of a busy and crucial summer on Tuesday, when they agreed to trade the No. 18 overall pick in Thursday's NBA Draft to the Houston Rockets for Chase Budinger.
Make no mistake: Budinger alone isn't going to turn this team into title contenders, and no kid will do a cartwheel when his face is on top of their pack of basketball cards. But he helps out the Wolves in multiple ways.
Budinger provides an instant upgrade over Wesley Johnson -- granted, that's not saying a whole lot -- and can start next season's opener.
He can play shooting guard or small forward. He shot 40.2% percent from 3-point range a year ago for the Rockets, compared to Johnson's 31.4%.
Also, despite entering his fourth year in the league, Budinger is 10 months younger than Johnson.
Budinger comes cheap, too. As a former second-round pick in 2009, he is on the books for just $942,293, according to HoopsHype.com. He will have the season to play his way into an extension from the Wolves, or they can cut ties after one season if it doesn't pan out.
A cheap veteran like Budinger, even if for just a season, is a much smarter acquisition for the Wolves than handing out yet another guaranteed rookie contract to player who would likely need to ask his older teammates to buy him beer. The Wolves need to get older, not younger.
The Wolves also acquired the rights to Israeli prospect Lior Eliyahu, who is currently playing for Maccabi Tel-Aviv, and if he somehow pans out, that'll just be icing on the cake.
The lure of a cashing in on a draft pick used on a promising college kid is enticing for fans, but Budinger is a safer bet.
Ask yourself this: do you really trust the guy who has swung and missed on Johnson and Jonny Flynn in the top 10 to find the Coup de Ville at the bottom of this proverbial Cracker Jack box?
Of course not. And this move is covered in coach Rick Adelman's fingerprints, not David Kahn's.
It satisfies Adelman's desire to add a veteran and, in this case, a player he has coached before. Budinger is familiar with the system the Wolves run and he is clearly a player Adelman favors.
This move paints a clearer picture of how much weight Adelman's voice carries behind the scenes, too. This was a move Adelman wanted, and that should provide a breath of fresh air for the fans who have grown tired of Kahn's antics.
When the sky started falling for the Wolves last season and the younger players seemingly packed it on their way to losing 13 of their final 14 games, Adelman continually showed frustration with the lack of resolve shown by the team. The last thing he wanted was another project rookie when he has made it clear he wants to win now.
This isn't the last move the Wolves will make this summer. This probably isn't even the last move the Wolves make in the next 72-hours.
But it is certainly a step in the right direction if the Wolves hope to end their NBA-long eight-year playoff drought next season.