I’m a little late to the party, but as I walked into the office for my internship this morning I receive a call from a good friend informing me of this trade. The #18 pick in this year’s draft to Houston for forward Chase Budinger and the draft rights to forward Lior Eliyahu, an Isreali professional for Maccabi Tel Aviv. KFAN radio and other various stations initially tore the Wolves front office a new one upon hearing the trade. Minnesota was also about to bring in Syracuse center Fab Melo in for a workout, but that doesn’t look like a big possibility now. For now, I’m going to try to put a positive spin on this. It’s not like Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio were traded for a washing machine.
So what exactly does the team get out of this trade? It’s a question many Minnesota faithful are asking. For a small history lesson, Budinger played under coach Adelman during his tenure in Houston. One could suggest that Adelman liked Chase, and urged David Kahn and Glen Taylor to make a move for Budinger. The Rockets also have an motive here, as they are trying to build up assets in an attempt to trade for Orlando Magic star Dwight Howard. The team also acquires a a Euroleague star who has played well against NBA teams, and rumors are that the 26 year old Eliyahu is ready to come overseas and play in the NBA. The problem with that is he signed a 5 year deal in 2010, so a buyout would have to be in the works for him to come to the states. I’ll skip the analysis of Eliyahu for now, as it seems unlikely he will play in the NBA this season.
With Budinger, the Wolves get a near replica of Brent Barry. His tools of the trade are a deadly 3-point shot and a 41″ vertical leap. Both were slam dunk contestants, impressing the crowds while breaking the stereotype that white men can’t jump and aren’t athletic in comparison to black players. What we can expect out of him depends on whether or not he starts. Budinger has always played between 20 and 22 minutes a game in his career, bringing career per game averages of 9.4 points, 3.4 rebounds, and 1.4 assists to the table along with good free throw shooting and 3-point percentages. If he starts and gets about 30 mpg, we can expect these numbers to increase to respectable levels. My prediction is that he will be a good, but not great, addition to the team. Especially with the way Wes Johnson shot the ball last year. He will likely average over 10 points for the first time in his career with a distributor like Ricky Rubio playing along side him. No disrespect to Kyle Lowry of course.
This trade also gives the fans clues about what the front office is up to. With Derrick Williams, Budinger, Wes Johnson, Wayne Ellington, and the potential free agents in Micheal Beasley and Martell Webster, there is quite the logjam at the perimeter. Expect to see some draft night trades from Kahn and company, and possibly some wheeling and dealing during free agency as well. The #18 pick was a tad much for a role player and a prospect, but if he plays respectable basketball and helps the team get to the playoffs I am more than okay with that. For now, it’s time to sit back and watch chaos ensue on Thursday night.