The Houston Rockets and Minnesota Timberwolves are two teams on the outside looking in regarding the Western Conference playoff picture. It appears the organizations decided to help each other out on Tuesday, as Houston reportedly dealt swingman Chase Budinger to Minnesota for the No. 18 overall pick in Thursday's NBA draft.
According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, the deal also involves the Rockets sending the rights to Israeli prospect Lior Eliyahu to the T'Wolves.
With the trade, Houston now has the 14th, 16th and 18th picks in the draft, and a ton of flexibility to boot. The Rockets already have a strong core of players with Luis Scola, Kevin Martin and Kyle Lowry, but they have plenty of holes to fill as well, most notably at center.
Houston could use one or two of those picks to address the interior, or something bigger may be in the works. One possibility is the Rockets packaging those picks with one or more players on their current roster for Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard.
It is no secret that Howard is unhappy in Orlando, and his presence would most definitely solve Houston's interior issues.
Kurt Helin of ProBasketballTalk believes that the Rockets are attempting to do precisely that, but whether or not they can get a deal done is an entirely different story.
If those are indeed the Rockets' motives, then the trade makes plenty of sense for them.
The deal also works on many levels for the Timberwolves. Budinger has been a fantastic contributor off the bench over his first three NBA seasons, but he has been even better as a fill-in starter. In 35 career starts, Budinger has put up a line of 14 points, four rebounds and two assists on 46 percent shooting from the field.
This past season, Budinger battled for playing time on a roster loaded with wing players, and averaged just under 10 points and four rebounds per contest.
Minnesota has plenty of firepower up front, particularly in the form of Kevin Love, but the team desperately needs a shooting guard. The T-Wolves could have used their pick to take one, but Budinger is still young and improving, so it was an easy deal for them to pull the trigger on.
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