The Houston Rockets have traded forward Chase Budinger to the Minnesota Timberwolves for the No. 18 pick in Thursday's NBA Draft, according to multiple reports on Twitter.
The Rockets now own the No. 14, 16 and 18 picks in the first round of the draft. It is believed that Houston is trying to put together a package to trade to the Orlando Magic for center Dwight Howard.
ESPN.com reported Sunday that the Rockets wanted to acquire a pair of top-10 picks they could then use as part of a deal for Howard. That report said Sacramento's No. 5 pick and Toronto's No. 8 pick were available. Houston, with its three first-round picks, may have enough ammunition to acquire both picks if it is willing to include point guard Kyle Lowry.
The wisdom of a trade for Howard has been questioned, as NBA.com's David Aldridge reported there is "not a chance" Howard would sign a long-term contract with the Rockets. Still, it appears the trade of Budinger likely has a larger acquisition as its end goal. Budinger averaged 9.6 points in 22.4 minutes per game last season, his third in the NBA. The 24-year-old Budinger had spent his entire career with Houston.