7:43pm: Kevin Bradbury, Budinger’s agent, said that the decision was made quickly regarding the forward’s player option in order to give both sides “flexibility” while Minnesota makes the decision on whether or not it will keep Budinger, Jerry Zgoda of The Star Tribune relays (Twitter links). The agent also said that Budinger’s late-season play proved he is 100% healthy and can play to the level he did prior to his injury, Zgoda adds.
WEDNESDAY, 5:19pm: Budinger has indeed exercised his player option for 2015/16, Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports reports.
TUESDAY, 5:20pm: Small forward Chase Budinger intends to opt in and remain with the Timberwolves for the 2015/16 season, a source close to the player told Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN Twin Cities (Twitter link). It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the 26-year-old would choose to remain in Minnesota for another go around, since the value of his option is likely more than he would command as an unrestricted free agent, though that is merely my speculation. Budinger has a player option worth $5MM for next season.
Minnesota currently has $51,065,800 in guaranteed salary already committed for the 2015/16 campaign, as well as $947,276 in non-guaranteed salary for Lorenzo Brown on its books. Budinger remaining with the team will remove some flexibility for coach/executive Flip Saunders, though Minnesota isn’t likely to be a big player in free agency this offseason, so the impact isn’t too severe. The team had previously expressed a willingness to trade Budinger, and reportedly tried to move him prior to this year’s trade deadline.
Budinger’s production in Minnesota never quite lived up to the three-year, $16MM contract he inked with the team back in 2013. He has been hampered by injuries and appeared in just 23, 41, and 67 games during his stint in the Twin Cities. During the 2014/15 campaign Budinger notched averages of 6.8 points, 3.0 rebounds, and 1.0 assists in 19.2 minutes per contest. The forward’s career numbers are 8.6 points, 3.2 rebounds, and 1.2 assists. His career slash line is .429/.358/.810.