MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Chase Budinger arrived in Minnesota on Wednesday as the newest addition to the Timberwolves roster and team president David Kahn made it sound like he won’t be the only new guy in town before too long.
The Wolves acquired Budinger in a trade with Houston on Tuesday, looking to add more balance to their roster by adding a 6-foot-7 swingman who can shoot from the perimeter and move without the ball. It’s the first in what Kahn said could be a series of moves to help reshape the roster get the team into the playoffs for the first time eight seasons.
“You should assume there will be other changes made,” Kahn said on Wednesday.
Kahn also said the Timberwolves are interested in signing free agent guard Brandon Roy, who retired from Portland before last season began because of knee troubles but is trying to make a comeback. Adding Budinger and looking to bring in the three-time All-Star Roy would seem to signify the end of the road for Martell Webster and Michael Beasley in Minnesota.
Webster’s contract can be bought out for $600,000 and Beasley will become a free agent unless the Wolves tender an $8.2 million qualifying offer by Saturday. Kahn said those decisions have not been made yet, but things are expected to ramp up as the draft approaches on Thursday night.
The Timberwolves traded their first-round pick, No. 18 overall, to the Rockets for Budinger, preferring a known quantity over another rookie on one of the youngest teams in the league. Rick Adelman coached Budinger in Houston for the first two seasons of his career, and the familiarity was one of the biggest selling points for the coach.
Kahn approached Rockets GM Daryl Morey to express interest in Budinger, who is entering his fourth season, earlier this summer, and Adelman got a call earlier this week that jumpstarted the deal.
“Frankly, with the 18th pick, you’re looking at maybe getting another 19-year-old player that you’ve got to build and you’ve got to wait for,” Adelman said. “And we have too many like that. We need to get quality players. And I think Chase, he’s been in the league three years, but he still is young. So you kind of get a nice combination.”
The Timberwolves could try to trade back into the first round if a specific player they like is available, but the team seems more interested in adding veterans to the young roster.
Budinger was ecstatic to rejoin Adelman’s corner offense, a system predicated on ball movement, backdoor cuts and transition. He said he butted heads with new Rockets coach Kevin McHale early last season while they tried to get on the same page and feels he’s a better fit with Adelman.
“I felt last year I was standing a lot in corners and not moving, which wasn’t to my strengths,” said Budinger, who played with Wolves All-Star Kevin Love on the same club team in high school. “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. You know, they’ve both been great coaches. I’ve got nothing bad to say on either coach.”
Budinger’s addition appears to have sealed the fates of Beasley and Webster, but also calls into question what the Wolves will do with last year’s No. 2 pick Derrick Williams and former fourth overall choice Wesley Johnson, who has struggled to assert himself in his first two seasons.
Kahn said Love and Ricky Rubio are the only untouchables when it comes to trades, but did say that he has been pleased with what Williams has shown the team this summer. Williams had a procedure to fix his septum in hopes of alleviating some breathing issues, but has since dropped down to 233 pounds as he tries to prepare to play the small forward full time.
Kahn said Williams has set a personal goal of 225 pounds and is working with Love’s trainer to get lighter and quicker.
“Here we are on June 27, and given the fact that he’s only been at it for four weeks since his nose procedure, I’m very pleased with the things he’s been doing,” Kahn said.
After spending most of the first three months after his knee surgery recovering and rehabbing in Minnesota, Rubio is returning to his native Spain. The Wolves are sending a physical therapist with him to make sure his recovery continues on the right path.
“He just needs to keep making steady progress,” Kahn said. “The most important thing is that he comes back better and stronger than ever.”
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