This morning, we all probably woke up to the same breaking news of the Wolves trading the 18th overall pick in Thursday night’s draft to the Houston Rockets for swingman Chase Budinger. As breaking and exciting as it may be, there needs to be some analysis to pick the deal apart and attempt to pick why Kahn, Adelman and the front office made this happen.
Before even getting into it, I laid my head to rest late last night thinking about the rumors that had Kevin Martin coming to Minnesota for the 18th pick. That’s why the news this morning actually took me by surprise in the moment. I thought, “Did Kahn ask for the right player? Did he screw Martin and Budinger’s names?” But the more you think about it, the more Budinger makes more sense than his former teammate Martin.
For those who don’t know diddly squat about Budinger, he’s a legit 6-foot-7 wing player with bullseye accuracy from deep and a white boy swag to him (He dunked over P. Diddy in this All-Star Break’s Dunk Contest). In the ’10-’11 season, head coach at the time, Rick Adelman, grew fond of the former second round pick’s skills and inserted him into the starting lineup for 22 games, in favor of Terrence Williams, a former lottery pick. However, last season, Budinger did lose playing time to Chandler Parsons but didn’t see much of a decline in his numbers.
Budinger has carved a niche to his NBA game as a role player playing the 2 or the 3. Mentioned earlier, he’s a great three-point shooter. Last season he converted threes at a 40-percent clip, and nailed 48.5-percent of his corner threes. The Wolves, collectively, only hit on 36-percent of their corner threes thanks to the poor shooting of Wes Johnson and Martell Webster. He makes a great addition for someone who can clean up off penetration from Rubio in the corner. He’s not one-dimensional either, and has better ball-handling skills than Johnson, although still not great. And neither his is defense but it’s not putrid like Michael Beasley’s.
Clearly the move is an immediate upgrade at the wing from years past, and I stress the word immediate. The one knock you can have on this deal is that the value wasn’t there; the 18th pick in the draft could/would/should produce younger, sexier talent with the chance of awakening a sleeper star. But I’ll be the one to tell you that your odds of that happening aren’t likely. Some of the most notable 18th overall picks in NBA history include Mark Jackson, Joe Dumars, Theo Ratliff, JR Smith and Ty Lawson. Just one, Dumars, has been inducted to the Hall of Fame. The odds of finding insane talent and value at pick 18 are slim to none. That’s why acquiring a proven player, someone who has posted an actually good career low win shares per 48 minutes of just 0.95 (WS/48 is “an estimate of the number of wins contributed by a player per 48 minutes,” according to Basketball-Reference; the league average is 1.0) is of much higher value than an unproven rookie with an unknown amount of development to go.
Overall, I really like this deal. It immediately helps our desperate need at the wing and also makes Beasley and Webster assumably expendable at this point. That, in turn, will free up nearly $13 million in cap space this coming offseason, and give flexibility beyond that because Budinger is owed not even $1 mil next season.
Sitting here thinking about why this trade could be bad, there comes but one thought. For all those bashing the trade because Kahn made the wrong move or didn’t get enough for the 18th pick, just stop it. Kahn didn’t make this move, Adelman did, or at least he facilitated it, I’m sure. Adelman coached Budinger in Houston and obviously really liked him enough to throw his name to Kahn and say, “Make it happen.” Because of that, you have to wonder who’s really running this team and, more importantly, this pivotal offseason. Is it Kahn or is it Adelman? You have to hope there’s not a power struggle up top. If it’s Kahn running the team, you have to worry about what might come during free agency and the types of contracts he may be throwing on the table. If it’s Adelman, you have to hope that he’s not planning on stocking this team full of vets he’s coached before, especially ex-Rockets. Adelman’s a successful coach but the Rockets were always so-so under his command. Do the Wolves really want to become the next Rockets of the NBA? The team that always plays good but never good enough. The goal has to be championship, not just bottom-dwellers of the Western Conference playoff seeds, therefore allowing Adelman to takes reigns over the personnel could spell out mediocrity in big, legible writing. The two must learn to coexist through this offseason or there will be an awful lot of discouragement from the front office, something no young team should have to put up with.
Anyways, I don’t believe that’s the case. It’s just a simple musing I conjured up sitting at work all day. Again, I believe that this trade is definitely a step in the right direction towards having a solid offseason. Improvements are needed in tons of areas and this deal helps shade in a couple of those. The real craziness begins July 1st. Are you ready?!