Noah Vonleh and Gerald Henderson
It is still a little early really see what General Manager Neil Olshey is doing behind the scenes with such a big off season of possibilities, but yesterday Neil pulled the trigger on, what appears to be, a trade for the betterment of the franchise. So welcome to the family Noah Vonleh and Gerald Henderson. Thanks for the memories Nicolas Batum.
It was announced via press release yesterday that the trade between the Blazers and our old friend Rich Cho of the Charlotte Hornets was finalized, sending away what many argued about over this past season, an overpaid Nicolas Batum and receiving more depth at the Power Forward positions with Noah Vonleh and a security measure at Shooting Guard with veteran Gerald Henderson.
So WHY would Portland pull the trigger now? There are a few obvious reasons to look at… 1) With this trade, Portland actually saves about $3.6 Million in salary cap, freeing up some money for what could be an expensive off season if they choose to re-sign Aldridge, Matthews, and Lopez among other expiring contracts. 2) Adding a young and upcoming player in Vonleh at Power Forward, opens up possibilities if Aldridge does in fact choose to move onto greener pastures. Vonley is only 19 years old and was the #9 draft pick in the draft last year. He has only played in 25 games last year, but Vonleh was looked promising with his limited playing time. 3) You can call Henderson a security policy for Wesley Matthews. It made waves a few days ago when Wesley compared himself to James Harden and truly believes he should be paid like him as well. With words like that going out to the masses, it is no wonder why Olshey needed a security policy in case negotiations went south with Matthews over the summer. Henderson, who is a 7 year veteran, averaged about 12 points of 80 games last seasons and is only going to command $6 Million for the 2015-16 season, in which he just recently accepted his player option when he was still with the Hornets.
Batum had his fair share of trouble in the seasons following his big contract payday and bidding war with Minnesota a few years back. Olshey was willing and vocal in saying he would match whatever offer was out there and he did, which 99.9% of the time, means he overpaid. It definitely showed this past season, which Batum and arguably his worst year. Batum, behind closed doors this past season, had a lot of personal issues he was dealing with, which I am sure had some kind of effect on the court. In 2013, a divorce was finalized and happened “amicably” but more importantly, out of the public eye. Not until this past September, when Batum found himself back in court due to back payments of a settlement. Court documents showed some basic missteps and miscommunications as documents and emails showed that Batum was truly trying to make payments and was actually ahead of payments. In the end, Batum was proven to have done nothing wrong. “It’s a process. But I’m good. I just feel bad that people are going to think I’m a bad guy. I’m not” Batum quoted when asked by Steve Mayes of The Oregonian.
For both sides, it is a chance at a fresh start. The Hornets, Rich Cho, and Michael Jordan, know what they have with Batum and just like many trades of the Blazers in the past, I am sure we will see Batum gracing the cover of Player of the Week/Month or All-Star discussions in the 2015-16 season. That’s usually how trades turn out for the Blazers with past practice. For the Blazers, it is a solid move towards a possible bright future. We won’t really know until Olshey completes the off seasons and we see what type of team we have for the 2015-16 season. As of right now, there are too many questions still unanswered to make any sort of guess on where we will end up when tip-off happens.
Matt Brown – PortlandMetroLive.com Contributor
Born and raised in Portland Oregon, Matt Brown is Sports & Business Management Consultant with experience working with everyone from small and local Mom & Pop shops to working with professional sport league’s on business development. He brings a wealth of knowledge on the business side of sports, a side that many fans don’t get to see too often when they watch their favorite team battle each week.