New place, but faces are familiar to Budinger

  • Article by: JERRY ZGODA , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 19, 2012 - 7:36 AM
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Minnesota Timberwolves' Chase Budinger

Photo: Bruce Bisping, Star Tribune file

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New Timberwolves swingman Chase Budinger's mother accompanied her son to Minnesota, recently arranging the cutlery in his kitchen and the pictures on the wall, just like she always does whenever he leaves San Diego for a new address.

Only this time, his new place already feels a good bit like home.

Born and raised in California, Budinger admits he's nervous about surviving a northern winter for the first time. But when he looks around the Target Center practice court and sees assistant coach T.R. Dunn and R.J. and David Adelman, he knows he's not that far removed from his first NBA seasons spent in Houston.

"You're in a new place, but you're with the same coaches," said Budinger, who played for Wolves coach Rick Adelman and assistants Dunn, Jack Sikma and R.J. Adelman during those three years with the Rockets. "It feels good. I'm comfortable with these guys. I know their system. I know how they coach. That's what's so great about this, it's not going to be a completely new transition. It's going to be somewhat of a new place and new teammates, but as far as the coaches and the system, it's still the same."

Acquired in a draft-week trade in June, Budinger, 24, arrived in Minnesota last week to prepare for the Oct. 2 start of training camp. On Tuesday, he worked alongside new teammates Brandon Roy, Luke Ridnour, Nikola Pekovic, Greg Stiemsma, Malcolm Lee, Dante Cunningham and Will Conroy, getting to know his new teammates and new surroundings.

"I still get confused that this gym is downstairs instead of upstairs," he said, referring to the Rockets' Toyota Center practice court. "I'm always like, 'OK, let's go up to the gym.' I have to get used to saying 'down' here."

Clock's ticking

The Wolves still have one roster space to fill with training camp less than two weeks away, if Conroy, a former D-League guard signed to a partially-guaranteed contract, makes the team. They remain in contact with the agents for unrestricted free agents Anthony Tolliver and Hassan Whiteside, among others.

Greek team Panathinaikos has pursued Tolliver, who is seeking more than the league-minimum salary the Wolves currently can only offer him. Tolliver said he has no plans to play in Greece, but said it is an option as he continues to talk with a handful of NBA teams.

Blazer no more

Tolliver has spent much of the summer in Minnesota and has been working out regularly at Target Center, where he now is accustomed to seeing Roy wear a Wolves jersey.

"The first day seeing him down here was weird," Tolliver said. "It's one of those things. It's the NBA, guys changing teams every year. You just kind of get used to it. It's normal. He's a Wolf now."

Etc.

• The Wolves' D-League affiliate in Sioux Falls, S.D., is holding player tryouts in five cities, including Minneapolis this weekend. The tryout is Sunday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Wolves' Target Center practice facility. Participants must register -- North Dakota's Travis Bledsoe and Minnesota State Mankato's Marcus Hill are expected to play -- and pay a nonrefundable $150 fee. Registration forms can be found online at skyforceonline.com

• Kevin Love is expected to arrive in town in the next few days for his basketball camp in Eden Prairie this week and to prepare for camp. Ricky Rubio is due back, too, after a weeklong checkup in Vail, Colo., during which he was approved to run for the first time since undergoing knee surgery in March.

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