Budinger, 25, averaged 9.4 points and 3.1 rebounds in 23 games last season after being acquired in a trade with the Rockets for a first-round pick. He missed most of the season after having knee surgery.
The Timberwolves struggled to find consistent shooting from either wing position last season, and Andrei Kirilenko's decision to opt out of his contract apparently left new president Flip Saunders in a position where he felt that needed to act fast. Budinger is familiar with coach Rick Adelman's system dating to their shared time in Houston. The strengths of his game are his fairly reliable spot-up shooting, even if his percentages last season post-surgery don't necessarily reflect that fact, and his ability to create high-percentage scoring opportunities by moving off the ball.
Minnesota also agreed Tuesday to a four-year, $28 million contract with free-agent guard Kevin Martin, suggesting that Kirilenko is on his way out. If that's the case, Budinger pencils in as the starting small forward, at least for now. Although his defensive abilities and off-the-dribble game are nothing to write home about, he should be able to handle the responsibilities that come with the first full-time starting gig of his career.
The free-agent negotiating period opened on Monday. Contracts can't be signed until July 10. Grade: C+. Let's face it, 2013 is a good time to be a shooter, or at least someone who is perceived to be a shooter. Budinger appears to benefit here from his history with Adelman, the increased emphasis on the three-point shot in recent years and Minnesota's general desperation at the 2 and 3 positions. After cashing in here, Budinger is set up nicely for success in a niche role as long as Martin, Ricky Rubio and All-Star forward Kevin Love remain healthy throughout next season. Still, this is just too much money -- not way too much, but too much -- for a fairly typical role player whose Player Efficiency Rating has been consistently in the ballpark of league average throughout his four-year career.