The Indiana Pacers continue to stay busy in their offseason overhaul of the roster, the latest move a trade of forward Damjan Rudez for Minnesota Timberwolves forward Chase Budinger, according to multiple Saturday reports.
Rudez played only one season for the Pacers as a reserve and showed flashes of potential as a 3-point shooter, but Budinger is a more established player with six NBA seasons of experience. He’ll cost $5 million in the last year of his contract.
The Timberwolves are trying to get younger and also reportedly shopped Budinger because of his inability to stay healthy due to knee problems. He played in just 131 of a possible 246 games with 13 starts the past three seasons. But Budinger played in 67 games last season and averaged 6.8 points, 3 rebounds and 1 assist in 19.2 minutes per game.
Rudez, 29, is two years older and listed as three inches taller than Budinger, but the latter fits the Pacers’ push to develop a more up-tempo team. The forward moves well without the ball and reads cutting lanes.
Rudez hit 40.6 percent of his 3-pointers, tops for all NBA rookies last season, after playing overseas for Croatia. He has two years remaining on his contract.
He’s a streak shooter who started slow but earned more playing time with better accuracy as the season continued. The Timberwolves struggled with outside shooting last season. Rudez averaged 4.8 points in 15.4 minutes last season. He appeared in 68 games.
The Pacers’ makeover has been constant since forward David West opted out of the final year of his contract, passing on $12.6 million to sign for the veteran minimum of $1.4 million to be on a contender, the San Antonio Spurs. Center Roy Hibbert was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers for a future second-round draft choice.
Neither West nor Hibbert fit the team’s shift toward a faster-paced style. The Hibbert trade passed $15.5 million in salary to the Lakers.
That Pacers President Larry Bird was able to free up money enabled the team to sign shooting guard Monta Ellis to a reported four-year, $44-million contract. The team has yet to confirm the deal, although it has been reported as finalized by multiple media outlets.
The Pacers are also reportedly close to finalizing a deal for former Lakers center Jordan Hill, who had better scoring and rebounding numbers than Hibbert last season.
Phillip B. Wilson can be found on Twitter (@pwilson24), Facebook and Google+.