MINNEAPOLIS — It took a bit more time and maneuvering than expected, but the Kevin Martin-Rick Adelman reunion in Minnesota is now official.
The Timberwolves announced Thursday night they’ve acquired Martin, a former player of Adelman’s on two separate occasions, from Oklahoma City in a three-team, sign-and-trade deal that sends point guard Luke Ridnour and a 2014 second-round draft pick to Milwaukee. Minnesota also receives cash considerations from Oklahoma City, while the Thunder get draft rights to the Bucks’ Szymon Szewczyk.
The Timberwolves dealt their selection acquired last summer from the Los Angeles Lakers via the Phoenix Suns to Milwaukee, where Ridnour will be reunited with his former team.
The Timberwolves also have yet to re-sign unrestricted free agent Chase Budinger or restricted free agent Nikola Pekovic, also, though both players’ Larry Bird rights allow Minnesota to exceed the cap to retain them.
Martin helps fill a giant need at the two-guard spot, especially when it comes to outside shooting. During an injury-filled, 31-51 campaign, the Timberwolves shot a league-worst 30.5 percent from behind the line.
Their newest acquisition, meanwhile, was putting together the best 3-point shooting season of his career. Although his overall production dwindled in the wake of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook’s central roles in Oklahoma City’s offense, Martin hit 42.6 percent of his 3-pointers and scored 14 points per night.
The Thunder’s first option off the bench, he ranked fourth in the NBA with an 89-percent free-throw clip.
Now, he’ll likely start and benefit from the motion-based, pass-and-cut offense he learned under Adelman in Sacramento from 2004-06 and perfected during one-and-a-half seasons in Houston from 2010-11.
“We’re gonna ask him to do a lot more,” Saunders said. “He’s more familiar with our offense than anybody on our roster, and he’s going to be able to teach that offense better than anybody. There’s no question, we’re almost getting a player that’s played for us before.”
When he was traded to the Rockets in 2010, Martin said, “I couldn’t have packed my bags faster when I found out I was going to Houston to play for Rick Adelman again.”
There’s a similar vibe as Martin gathers his belongings once again, this time heading north.
“We’ve been talking and texting daily, and he’s excited about being with Coach Adelman again and coming back to the system,” Saunders said. “He’s excited about our aggressiveness that we’ve shown in an effort to make this team better. … There’s no question he has a lot of excitement to where this team has the ability to go.”
Another Adelman favorite, however, is gone.
Ridnour started all 82 games last season, and most of them at shooting guard, which he holds isn’t his primary position. In each of his three seasons with Minnesota, he averaged more than 11 points and 3.8 assists per game.
He returns to Milwaukee, the team that acquired him in 2008 through another three-team trade then let him walk and sign with the Timberwolves as a free agent in 2010. It’s expected he’ll see more time as a point guard there.
“It was a tough decision,” Saunders said, “but Luke was very much wanted. … There were a lot of people, since the day I got this job, that they’d talked about him and liked him.”