Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports drops this bombshell about the Portland Trail Blazers.
Portland is finalizing a trade to send Nic Batum to Charlotte for Noah Vonleh and Gerald Henderson, league sources tell Yahoo.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) June 24, 2015
And at 6pm Wednesday, the Blazers officially announced the transaction:
Trail Blazers acquire F Noah Vonleh and G Gerald Henderson from the Charlotte Hornets in exchange for F Nicolas Batum.— Trail Blazers PR (@TrailBlazersPR) June 25, 2015
The 26-year-old Batum has played 7 seasons for the Trail Blazers. He's averaged 11.2 points, 5.1 rebounds, and 3.0 assists with 44.6% shooting, 36.3% from the three-point arc. He is scheduled to make $12.2 million next year, the final year of his current contract.
Henderson is 26 and has played 6 seasons for the Hornets. He holds career averages of 12.0 points and 3.4 rebounds on 44.3% shooting, 30.9% from distance. He has a single year remaining on his contract with $6 million owed for the 2015-16 season.
The 19-year-old Vonleh appeared in 25 games for the Hornets as a rookie last season. He averaged 10.4 minutes per appearance, splitting time between power forward and center. He shot only 39.5% from the field but fired 38.5% on three-pointers. He averaged 3.3 points and 3.4 rebounds per game. He was drafted 9th overall in the 2014 NBA Draft.
Update: Wojnarowski adds this clarification.
Sources: Blazers didn't make deal as first step of rebuilding. Aldridge was aware of trade, and Blazers did deal independent of free agency.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) June 24, 2015
This echoes my early impression. Not only could Vonleh be a good player in time, the Blazers might be preparing for another move, either upwards in the draft or in free agency. Portland will not return the same starting lineup next season but that doesn't necessarily mean they're going backwards. We'll need to see what the next step is.
Update: Wojnarowski now has a full article on the deal.
The deal will be finalized on Wednesday night, league sources said.
The Blazers have been shopping Batum in recent days, and the deal gives them an intriguing young player, Vonleh, who is 19 years old with significant talent and work ethic. Vonleh was Charlotte's pick at No. 9 overall in the 2014 NBA Draft.
Henderson gives the Blazers a solid shooting guard to plug into the lineup with Arron Afflalo opting out of his contract.
Update: If you're reading more into this than just a trade, Blazer's Edge social media guru Brandon Goldner points out that both Henderson and LaMarcus Aldridge are represented by super-agent Arn Tellem's (soon to be former) agency.
And here's the text of the official press release from the Blazers:
TRAIL BLAZERS ACQUIRE NOAH VONLEH AND GERALD HENDERSON FROM CHARLOTTE
Portland sends Nicolas Batum to Hornets in exchange
PORTLAND, Ore. (June 24, 2015) - The Portland Trail Blazers have acquired forward Noah Vonleh and guard Gerald Henderson from the Charlotte Hornets in exchange for forward Nicolas Batum, it was announced today by President of Basketball Operations Neil Olshey.
Vonleh (6-10, 240) enters his second NBA season in 2015-16 after Charlotte selected the Indiana standout with the ninth overall pick in the first round of the 2014 NBA Draft. In 25 career games with the Hornets, Vonleh, 19, is averaging 3.3 points (39.5% FG, 38.5% 3-PT, 69.2% FT), 3.4 rebounds, 0.2 assists and 10.4 minutes.
In his lone season at Indiana, Vonleh averaged 11.3 points and led the Big 10 in rebounding (9.0 rpg) on his way to Big 10 Freshman of the Year and All-Big 10 Third Team honors.
An NBA veteran, Henderson (6-5, 215) holds career averages of 12.0 points (44.3% FG, 30.9% 3-PT, 79.4% FT), 3.4 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 27.5 minutes in six seasons with Charlotte. Selected with the 12th overall pick in the first round of the 2009 NBA Draft out of Duke, Henderson, 27, ranked 26th in the NBA in free throw percentage last season (84.8%), while leading the Hornets in scoring 17 times.
"Nic Batum was a key contributor to all of our recent success," said Olshey. "He will truly be missed as a person and a player. We wish Nic all the best for the future."
In 481 career games (428 starts) with the Trail Blazers, Batum posted averages of 11.2 points (44.6% FG, 36.3% 3-PT, 83.4% FT), 5.1 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 30.8 minutes. Acquired in a 2008 draft day trade with Houston, Batum's 751 career 3-pointers are the third-most in franchise history.