Chase Budinger Sets His Wolves Return for Summer League
Chase Budinger has been chomping at the bit for much of the last two seasons, more than ready to put his injured past behind him. He returned for 41 games for the Wolves last season after a second surgery on his left knee, only to have a late-season ankle sprain shelve him for the rest of the year.
Budinger was back in limited action Tuesday night at Summer League practice. He didn’t participate in any contact drills, coach Flip Saunders confirmed, but he stuck around for about 30 minutes after practice concluded to work on his jump shot, no knee or ankle braces to be found.
“This is like the best I’ve felt since before my injuries,” Budinger said. “I’m getting my athletic ability back. I’m not worrying about the knee at all when I’m playing or doing workouts. It just feels good to be healthy again.”
Budinger lacked explosiveness at times last season, but he appeared to have the lift back in his jump shot Tuesday night.
“His legs seem a lot livelier,” Saunders said. “He’s got a lot more arc on his shot and the ball’s getting up in the air.”
Saunders admitted that the team might have made a mistake rushing Budinger back into the fold last season. He returned from the meniscus surgery just 36 games into the season.
“We probably made a mistake … because when we brought him back we probably should’ve put him in the D-League,” Saunders said. “We should’ve put him there to rehab him and use that to get his confidence going again.
“We brought him back midstream … and that probably wasn’t really fair to him. He got put in situation where he wasn’t ready.”
Budinger played in 41 games last season, but never seemed to fall into a groove on the offensive or defensive end. He scored in double digits 11 times and just when it looked like he figured it out — he snapped off for 24 points against the Miami Heat on April 4 — he injured his ankle a day later.
“It was just one of those ‘blah’ moments and I was devastated I couldn’t finished the season out,” Budinger said, adding that his injuries are now a part of his past.
Budinger will practice with the team for the rest of this week and then he will travel with the Wolves to Las Vegas for the Summer League circuit. Though he’ll be on the roster, Saunders said his time on the court could be limited and he may not even play in games while at Summer League.
Budinger didn’t’ give any indication to whether he’s been told otherwise about his potential minutes in Las Vegas, but said, above all else, he’s just happy to be back in the mix.
“It’s been a long road,” Budinger said. “These last two years have been a struggle for me. I’m just happy to be healthy again.”