The Timberwolves have sent the No. 18 pick in the draft to the Rockets in exchange for Chase Budinger, reports Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress.com (via Twitter). The Rockets also included the rights to Israeli forward Lior Eliyahu in the deal, tweets Adrian Wojnarwoski of Yahoo! Sports.
The trade gives the Rockets the 14th, 16th, and 18th overall picks in the draft. While this year's class is considered a deep one, Houston is unlikely to be stockpiling those picks to use them all. Given the rumors that the Rockets are looking to acquire multiple top-ten picks and/or make a run at Dwight Howard, the No. 18 pick represents another asset the team can put toward a bigger deal.
For Minnesota, the trade gives the team a wing with shooting ability, something the T-Wolves have been seeking. I'm not sure Budinger is necessarily the missing piece, or worth a mid-first-round pick, but he's only 24 years old and is on a minimum-salary contract for 2012/13. Plus, while this year's draft class features a number of high-upside two guards, it didn't seem as if players like Austin Rivers, Jeremy Lamb, Dion Waiters, and Terrence Ross would last until the No. 18 pick.
Budinger averaged 9.6 PPG and shot 40.2% from three-point range for the Rockets in 2011/12, and is under contract for one more year, earning about $885K. Eliyahu, meanwhile, was the 44th pick in the 2006 draft. The 26-year-old is currently under contract with Maccabi Tel Aviv in Israel, but has an NBA out in his deal. According to Givony (Twitter link), Eliyahu will play for the Wolves in Las Vegas this summer and has a decent chance to make the team.
The Rockets also obtain a traded player exception worth $854,389 in the deal. They have a year to use it, though a TPE that small is unlikely to be useful.