He’ll be rejoined by former Houston Rockets teammate Martin, who will play under head coach Rick Adelman for a third stint. The nine-year veteran brings a wealth of experience in the coach’s offensive system and the 3-point shooting prowess Minnesota has aggressively sought this offseason.
It only took two full days of free agency to do nab it.
Martin was reportedly the first player Timberwolves president of basketball operations Flip Saunders called Sunday night as soon as the negotiation period opened. A two-guard who can make 3s was their highest priority after failing to obtain one in the June 27 NBA Draft and shooting a league-worst 30.5 percent from behind the 3-point line last season.
Though his points-per-game totals aren’t what they used to be — 20-plus for five straight seasons from 2006-11, then 17 and 14 the past two years — Martin’s coming off the best perimeter campaign of his career, making 42.6 percent of his 3s during his one go-round in Oklahoma City.
He was introduced to Adelman’s system, which features a good deal of outside shooting, in 2004 as a Sacramento Kings rookie. The two teamed up again during the 2009-10 and 2010-11 seasons in Houston after Martin was traded.
Assuming the coach returns this fall, Martin will be the first player in Adelman’s 22-season tenure to play for him with three different franchises. Adelman’s wife, Mary Kay, suffered a series of seizures that caused him to miss several weeks during the season, but Saunders and owner Glen Taylor have indicated Rick Adelman plans to be back on the sidelines.
If so, he could be looking at a starting lineup of Martin at the two, Budinger at the three, point guard Ricky Rubio, power forward Kevin Love and center Nikola Pekovic.
That last name deserves a giant asterisk, because the big man from Montenegro is now Saunders’ penultimate objective. The restricted free agent can entertain offers from other teams, but Minnesota has the ability to match any offer sheets.
Martin’s agreement also means the Timberwolves likely have to renounce Andrei Kirilenko’s free-agent rights, which come with an $11 million cap hold. The forward opted out of the final year of his contract, worth $10 million, and is an unrestricted free agent. It’s unlikely he’d sign for whatever room Minnesota has left to offer.
The Timberwolves also have some extraneous guards they can deal in a trade, particularly Luke Ridnour and J.J. Barea. There’d been talk of moving one or both of them in a sign-and-trade for shooting guard O.J. Mayo, but Saunders and his staff obviously feel more comfortable bringing in Martin at that spot.
Budinger, Martin and every other free agent that reached an agreement during a busy Tuesday around the league can’t sign until July 10, when the NBA will release the salary cap and lift the league-wide moratorium.