Martin, Budinger Boost Wolves’ Shooting

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HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Across 34 years, among all the franchises of the NBA jacking up 3-point shots since the rule and the arc were established for the 1979-80 season, no team shot them as often and as badly as the Minnesota Timberwolves last season.

The Wolves’ .305 percentage was the worst in league history for a team that, by God, kept on shooting them anyway — averaging 18.0 per game. Injuries to some of Minnesota best players hurt their accuracy – even if a perimeter shooter was healthy, he might face more close-outs with big men Nikola Pekovic or Kevin Love absent on a given night. So, too, did the Wolves’ annual struggle to find competent players at the shooting guard position. Too often last season, coach Rick Adelman was stuck with an undersized tandem of Luke Ridnour and J.J. Barea.

Those concerns – about the shooting and the depth chart — seemingly both got addressed Tuesday with reports that Wolves president of basketball operations Flip Saunders reached agreements with two free-agent shooters.

One is familiar: Chase Budinger, who played last season for a $885,000 salary, reportedly will get a huge raise on a three-year, $16 million contract to return. The other one is new to Minnesota and was considered one of the top 15 or so free agents in this offseason market: Kevin Martin, who is said to have reached agreement with the Wolves on a four-year deal worth an estimated $28 million to $30 million.

Budinger, 25, will try to have the success envisioned by him and the Wolves prior to his knee injury (meniscus) last fall, which limited him to 23 games — 15 from March 21 on. A 6-foot-7 forward, Budinger spent his first three seasons in Houston, two with Adelman. Reunited in the Twin Cities, he seemed perfect for the ball-and-player movement that the veteran coach runs offensively. Healthy now, he’ll try to fit perfectly again.

Martin, 30, is a professional scorer, period. Twice in the past six years, the 6-foot-7 product of West Carolina ranked in the NBA’s top 10 in scoring and from 2007-2011 averaged 22.4 points, made 38.5 percent of his 3-pointers and got to the line for 8.4 free-throw attempts per game.

Martin established himself with the Sacramento Kings, who drafted him 26th overall in the 2004 Draft. Then he became a central figure in two major trades. In 2010, he went to Houston in a three-team, nine-player transaction in which his role was to step in for former Rockets star Tracy McGrady. Like Budinger, Martin was coached there by Adelman.

Last October, Martin was shipped from Houston to Oklahoma City in the Thunder’s desire to cushion the loss of guard James Harden, the third option on OKC’s 2012 Finals squad whose contract demands exceeded the team’s budget. Coming off the bench the way Harden had as the league’s top Sixth Man, Martin averaged 14.0 points – lowest output since his second NBA season – but at 18.2 points per 36 minutes, he was only slightly off Harden’s 19.3.

But his ballhandling, passing and rebounding were a step back from his predecessors. And OKC didn’t make it out of the second round.

Now Martin joins a team that would be grateful for help in making it into the first round. Minnesota hasn’t made the playoffs since 2004, a drought that this reconfigured crew hopes to end with Budinger and Martin getting open for Ricky Rubio assists and Love outlet passes.

And at a combined 37.7 percent from 3-point range in their careers, the Wolves’ lowly 2012-13 ranking is bound to improve.

30 Comments

  1. Brandon says:

    I would say that when he’s healthy, K-Love is definitely a top 5 talent. Doesn’t anyone remember that this dude averaged 26 ppg and 13 boards and he was in the top 5 in MVP voting?!!

  2. Austin says:

    they should pick up J.R. smith if they need a shooter.

  3. butch says:

    Congratulations. Once Minnesota resigns Pekovic they will finally be a contender!

    Go Wolves

  4. Joshua Greenfarb says:

    I love yah, Kevin Martin. If you do sign with Minnesota, that is awesome. I hoped OKC would re-sign Martin at a lower price. Since they didn’t, they must have plans to sign a couple major free agents with all the cap space they have. Next thing to do: amnesty Kendrick Perkins.

    • Joshua Greenfarb says:

      Then what? Go after Chris Paul. Go after Andre Igoudala. If OKC can’t, go after Al Jefferson. Go after Brandon Jennings and/or Monta Ellis. Go after someone like Josh Smith.

      Or something like that. :-)

  5. Kahn says:

    AK47 should’ve been their topmost priority after Pek. KMart’s contract is too long while Chase is too much. Luke or JJ needs to be traded.

  6. Kris says:

    Do any of you knuckleheads know how to spell or know correct grammar? Simply awful.

  7. the hidden truth says:

    TRAITOR

  8. Dee says:

    Kevin love is underrated. Not top5 but top10 definatly. Healthy wolves team s dangerous

    • asasaa says:

      klove is the best rebounder in the league when he is healthy, and the dude can shoot and score, amazing player. I hope he can repeat that 26/13 year next season.

  9. charles says:

    Good news. To those who are predicting playoffs, I would say: HOLD YOUR HORSES. KEVIN LOVe is not a top five player. You have to take your team to the playoff to be even in contention for a top five player. Top five players are not made in the regular season, they are made in the playoffs. I would say Memphis’s Gasol is a better player than love at this point. So he’s got a long way to climb. The NBA is pretty weak at the power forward position. Blake Griffin is athletic but not all that skilled. There is no Karl Malone or Sir Charles in todays mix – players with truly amazing skill sets in the PF position. So KLove might be top 3 (Z Bo is always in contention) in the PF position. He can’t claim any best player status for anything until he takes the T Wolves to the playoffs and is their best player there…..

    • Dee says:

      Kevin love got both of those Gasol bros. the only big man better than love is Tim duncan

    • astar23 says:

      I guess you forgot about tim duncan. Even at 37 he’s schooling these PF/C shooting 3s haha

  10. supes says:

    well this is not good for okc.

    gives MN a solid player at every position. what i like about this team is that offensively everyone can work without the ball except rubio. he has to improve his decision making a little but this is a good combination. this team vs okc in the playoffs is no walkover. better shooting, better decision making, better offensively individually and as a team, good rebounding. the defense will not be that good though. that’s going to be a problem.

  11. Roger Tornga says:

    So many of the components of the Rockets under Adelman are now at the Wolves that I will be cheering for them often. I came to love Adelman and was sorry to see him go. I, for one, miss him and am cheering for the success of his players and the health of all of them, too. What a great coach. I hope he gets a championship before he rides into the sunset!

  12. FL says:

    A great way to improve perimeter..but they need to focus on getting pekovic back.. and need more bigmens on bench.they need size on bench since wolves are short on bigmen last season with all that injury players they had

  13. J says:

    hope t wolves are better with martin hope he averages 20 again (unlikely)

  14. Vlad says:

    Man!! I wish Kevin Martin went back to the Kings!!

  15. Vlad says:

    Man!! I wish Kevin Martin went back to the Kings

  16. amitpal says:

    Well okc isnt winning a championship next year. I think if timberwolves can get there defense right they might be a top 3 or 4 team next year, depending on if houston get dwight or not.

  17. fanofthegame says:

    A completely healthy Wolves roster can easily be a 4th or 5th seed next season and really push a contender to the limit in the playoffs. they may need a year or two more before they can actually become title contenders. but i like this team. they have solid pieces and have just added more. Coach Adelman is one of the best in the business and if he decides to stick on with this group, they can reach the Finals in the next 3-4 years. Winning it of course..is on them…

  18. Vismund says:

    his real name is phillip

  19. DINKO says:

    awesome moves , with a healthy love and Rubio this season im predicting a top four seed in the west this season . Remember kevin love is a top 5 nba talent , and Rubio is a top five point . Love missed all of last season and Rubio missed most of it and never got his rhythm going plus the wolves were desimated by injuries last year . Watch out for them this season people , there a darkhorse .

  20. Tucker says:

    Woohoo! Way to go Flip! By the way is ‘Flip’ a nickname or something because that’s. a seriously weird name. Anyway with Budinger and Martin they’re gonna be so much better this year. Also Love being healthy will bring up their 3 point shooting too. Now just resign Nikola Pekovic for the love of God and all that is holy! If they can’t resign Pek then I’m done believing in the Wolves. Oh I know I’m a fair weather fan.. Kevin Love’s the best basketball player to come out of my home state (Oregon NOT California ..) so that’s a lot of why I watch them. That and Rubio. I love pure point guards. Anyway thanks Flip. So happy the wrath of Kahn is finally over.