In a trade deal with the Houston Rockets, the Minnesota Timberwolves have acquired small forward Chase Budinger and the rights to Israeli player Lior Eliyahu, in exchange for the no. 18 pick in Thursday’s NBA draft.
Eliyahu, a 6-foot, 9-inch power forward from Elyon, Israel, was selected by the Orlando Magic with the 44th pick in the 2006 draft and was later traded to Houston for cash considerations. He plays professionally in Israel with Maccabi Tel Aviv, and has also been a member of the senior Israeli national basketball team.
Eliyahu would be the second Israeli to play in the NBA. Omri Casspi, who plays for the Cleveland Cavaliers, became the first Israeli to enter the world’s premier basketball league, in 2009.
According to Sports Illustrated, Budinger “could help a Minnesota team that lacked scoring on the wing and ranked only 23rd in three-point accuracy in 2011-12.”
Regarding the deal, ESPN opined: “The Timberwolves see themselves as a team on the rise behind coach Rick Adelman, point guard Ricky Rubio and power forward Kevin Love. The Wolves faded late last season after Rubio went down with a knee injury, exposing the roster as one with too many point guards, power forwards and centers and not enough playmakers and shooters on the wings.”
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