Budinger becoming valuable asset for Wolves
Whether he's staying or going, Chase Budinger is in a good place right now.
It's the place where his knees aren't failing him. Where his shot is sailing true. And where the hesitation and aggravation that have plagued his past two seasons are no more.
The Timberwolves forward caught fire again Wednesday night, knocking down 3 of 7 3-pointers for 15 points in Minnesota's 110-91 preseason victory at Milwaukee's BMO Harris Bradley Center. It was the sixth-year small forward's second straight double-digit game and third in five exhibition contests, and he improved to 8 for 15 from beyond the arc so far this preseason.
Long-distance shooting is the paramount component of Budinger's game. And it wasn't up to snuff last season as he recovered from a second left-knee meniscus surgery in the previous calendar year.
Now, he's looking like a key backup among a deep group of Wolves wings -- or an attractive trade chip, depending how the rest of the roster shakes out.
FOX Sports 1 NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski reported recently president of basketball operations Flip Saunders is shopping Budinger, and teams including the Rockets and Pistons are interested. With so many other small forwards under contract, Budinger becomes somewhat expendable, especially if Minnesota can get something back for him.
Saunders has at least one move to make in order to get the roster down to 15 by the Oct. 27 deadline. If Budinger isn't dealt, Robbie Hummel or Glenn Robinson III could be cut, or J.J. Barea could be either bought out or traded.
In any case, though, Budinger looks much more comfortable than he did at any point last season. His legs are back under his shot, and his individual work with shooting coach Mike Penberthy that dates back to the summer seems to be paying off.
Budinger started at the three and played a team-high 33 minutes Wednesday night, also tallying seven rebounds and a pair of steals. Minnesota improved to 4-2 on the preseason, even with returning starters Corey Brewer and Kevin Martin, rookie Andrew Wiggins, Ronny Turiaf and Mo Williams all resting on the second day of a back-to-back.
Shabazz Muhammad scored a game-high 19 points, and Nikola Pekovic had a double-double with 15 points and 13 rebounds. The pestering defense Minnesota has developed since training camp was once again present. The Wolves forced 21 turnovers and held Milwaukee (3-4) to 40.2 percent shooting.
Minnesota wraps up the preseason Friday at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis against the Bulls. Its regular-season opener is a week from Wednesday at Memphis.
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