Budinger: Wolves Were Right Team For Me

Budinger: Wolves Were Right Team For Me

Mark Remme
Wolves Editor/Writer

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Wolves forward Chase Budinger said he and Kevin Martin arrived in Minneapolis on the same day when meeting with the Timberwolves and preparing to make their respective deals official to join (and rejoin) Minnesota next year. And Martin, who played with Budinger in Houston, was matter-of-fact about his decision to join the Wolves’ roster.

“It’s funny, the first thing he said to me was, ‘Come on, Chase, you know I wasn’t going to come anywhere else other than Minnesota,’” Budinger said. “The thing about Kevin is he likes to be comfortable, and when he’s comfortable, that’s when he’s at his best. And that’s going to be what he gets with Rick Adelman.”

No question, Budinger feels the same way.

Budinger, one of the Wolves’ top priorities this offseason, said all along that playing for Adelman was something he valued immensely. He said it in his initial press conference when the Wolves trade for him in June 2012, he said it as the season wound down and free agency drew nearer, and he said it on Saturday after admitting he took less money to re-join Minnesota after receiving a more lucrative offer from another team.

“If anybody knows the kind of guy I am, I’m kind of a cheap type of guy,” Budinger joked. “So giving up money is always tough. But I knew throughout that coming back to Minnesota was the right choice, the right opportunity for me. The right choice for me to grow as a player, and to make the playoffs.”

He’ll get the chance to prove Minnesota is, in fact, headed toward the direction of postseason play for the first time in a decade. And the Wolves certainly helped his cause this offseason, making a collection of moves that balanced the roster, gave the team depth at each position and should be able to score with more efficiency than last year.

Part of the issue in 2012-13 was the injury bug, and that included Budinger. He missed four months after knee surgery during a season he felt could be a personal breakout campaign. He felt good during training camp, the preseason and that first week of the year, and he thought he would be able to grow throughout the season.

That didn’t happen, because a torn meniscus forced him to miss 59 games. He, along with Kevin Love and a slew of other key contributors, missed enough time to table any of the promising hopes Minnesota had for last year.

But this offseason, under the direction of President of Basketball Operations Flip Saunders, the Wolves went back on the move. They made Budinger a top priority—something he acknowledged and appreciated knowing how much the team valued him—while also securing Martin and his scoring/3-point ability, Corey Brewer and his defensive-minded play, and made moves on Draft night that landed them an up-and-coming wing scorer in Shabazz Muhammad and a promising shot-blocker and front-court facilitator in Louisville center Gorgui Dieng.

The team was heavy at the point guard position and lacking on the wing, but over the past month Saunders said he feels like enough moves were made to make this a balanced attack for 2013-14.

“You feel better because you kind of you had an idea of what you needed to do,” Saunders said on Friday. “You had people that knew what we wanted to do and we pretty much filled our targets. So you feel good about that, now the work just begins.”

For Budinger, having gone through free agency and landed with the team he hand-picked, the focus now shifts toward getting fully prepared physically for next year. He said he is taking the steps to get his leg stronger, and he’s currently feeling good enough to the point where he’s able to jump at the standard he set for himself pre-injury.

He’s back in San Diego, where he spent much of the offseason, and plans to make a trip to Tucson, Ariz., for a sting working out at the University of Arizona before coming back to the Twin Cities.

When he arrives back in town, the work will once again begin. “When we’re healthy, we’re extremely, extremely good,” Budinger said. “We definitely should be a playoff team. We’re going to be an exciting team to watch. We added the necessary shooting this year. I think with the way Rick Adelman system is and the people we have, it will be tough for teams to guard us. Our biggest thing will be on the defensive end—to focus in on team defense and zone in on the defensive end this year. But I think we could be very good with the guys we’ve added, and I think it will help us in the long run. We’ll definitely be a fun team to watch.”

For more news and notes on the team follow the Minnesota Timberwolves and Mark Remme on Twitter, and join the conversation at WolvesNation.com.