Everybody knew the Charlotte Hornets were looking to make a deal, but nobody saw this one coming. According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, the Hornets will be sending Noah Vonleh and Gerald Henderson to the Portland TrailBlazers for Nicolas Batum.
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
This is certainly a surprise to say the least. After all, Gerald Henderson only just recently opted into the final year of his contract, and Noah Vonleh wasn't even a full year into his tenure with the team.
What's really shocking about this move is the Hornets will be receiving Batum in the trade. Nobody knew that he was on the market, and he's considered around the league one of the better 3-and-D wings in the NBA. Despite a down year last season, and being plagued with minor injuries, this is a move that will surely make the Hornets better in the short term.
As for what this means for Charlotte's future. It's very clear that the team is full on win now mode. They traded away Lance Stephenson for Spencer Hawes, and then immediately cleared up room in the front court by trading away the very young Noah Vonleh. Now with the addition of Batum, they've added a solid defender that can shoot the three ball, and everybody knows how much Charlotte struggled in that area last season.
Obviously there are questions about how Batum will fit with the team. He mainly played small forward with Portland, and that's currently Michael Kidd-Gilchrist's spot on the team. It's likely that he'll see minutes as a shooting guard, and that creates a team with two really big defenders at the wing positions. Of course, we could also see the team go small and play MKG at the four spot, but the great thing about Batum is how versatile he is as a player.
Batum played 71 games, averaging 9.4 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 4.8 assists per game in his final year with the Blazers. All of these numbers are down from his career averages.