Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Instant Trade Analysis: Chase Budinger to the Minnesota Timberwolves

Minnesota Timberwolves get: SF Chase Budinger

Houston Rockets get: 18th pick in the 2012 NBA Draft

In the first major pre-draft trade involving picks, the Houston Rockets have sent their sharp-shooting small forward Chase Budinger to the Minnesota Timberwolves for the 18th selection.

On the surface, the main ramification of this trade is pretty clear; the Rockets and their GM Daryl Morey are stockpiling picks for a run at an All-Star caliber player. Houston now owns the 14th, 16th, and 18th picks in the draft, with other trade assets such as guards Kyle Lowry, Kevin Martin and Courtney Lee, as well as big men Marcus Morris, Luis Scola, Samuel Dalembert and Patrick Patterson. Rumors are circulating that the Rockets are going to use some combination of players and picks to eventually make a big play for Dwight Howard (even without the assurance that he'd sign an extension), with Pau Gasol and Josh Smith as back-up options.

Obviously the other shoe has yet to drop, so we're just left to spectulate for now. On the immediate impact side, Chase Budinger looks like a solid pickup for the Wolves. Minnesota is likely to lose Michael Beasley and Anthony Randolph to free agency this summer, as it's quite obvious that SG Wesley Johnson isn't who they thought they were when they drafted the swingman out of the 'Cuse with the number 3 pick two years ago. With GM David Kahn likely to take a shooter or small forward with the 18th pick, trading for a proven gunner like Budinger could prove a shrewd move. The former Wildcat shot a career-high 40% from the arc in 2012 and along with his 10 point per game career average and better than expected rebounding from a swingman (4 per game).

The Timberwolves, who've been out of the playoffs for nearly a decade (their last appearance was with the Garnett-Cassell-Sprewell crew in 2003-2004), are poised to make a run next year with the emergence of Kevin Love, Nikola Pekovic, Ricky Rubio, JJ Barea and the aforementioned Williams. While the number 18 pick would likely bring them another young, talented and cheap player, coach Rick Adelman needs some NBA-ready bodies in there if they hope to compete in 2012-2013. Budinger is that guy.

What this also shows is that the team still might not see Derrick Williams as a small forward in the NBA. Last year's number 2 overall pick certainly has the build and three-point acumen similar to a big 3-man, but the acquisition of a starting-caliber forward like Budinger certainly puts this into doubt.

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