Tag: Cody Zeller

Denver Nuggets v Portland Trail Blazers

Portland trades Nicolas Batum to Charlotte for Noah Vonleh, Gerald Henderson


UPDATE 9:08 pm: It has become official, the trade announced by the Portland Trail Blazers. It was as reported, with Nicolas Batum going to Charlotte and Noah Vonleh and guard Gerald Henderson.

“Nic Batum was a key contributor to all of our recent success,” Portland GM Neil Olshey said in a released statement. “He will truly be missed as a person and a player. We wish Nic all the best for the future.”

7: 29 pm: Is this a signal that the Portland Trail Blazers think LaMarcus Aldridge is leaving as a free agent, and it’s time to rebuild for the future around Damian Lillard?

It’s too early to say with any certainty, but this trade about to be finalized and reported by Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports certainly feels like it could be the first step in that direction.

Of course, the Blazers say this is not the first step in a rebuild.

Charlotte had been shopping Cody Zeller in search of wing help, but Portland clearly preferred the the younger, cheaper four on the Hornet roster.

I like this trade for Charlotte. This is a team that was 30th in the NBA in three-point shooting percentage, plus a team that took a step back defensively last season. Nicolas Batum can help on both those fronts if healthy. The Frenchman struggled some last season battling injuries, and eventually needed wrist surgery, however, he is expected to be healthy for the start of next season. He is set to make $12.2 million in the last year of his deal.

The buzz is that this means Charlotte will take Frank Kaminsky at the No. 9 pick. He could be the kind of pick-and-pop four they hoped Noah Vonleh would develop into.

And he still might. Vonleh is still a teenager, a guy who always was going to need some time to develop, and now Portland will have him on his rookie contract to make that happen. Vonleh is seen as a potential four who can stretch the floor, but Charlotte had concerns about his defensive awareness. The Trail Blazers also pick up a solid veteran rotation guard in Gerald Henderson. They also save about $3.5 million in cap space that can go to luring free agents.

This just doesn’t feel like the kind of trade a win-now team would make, and Portland with Aldridge would be a win-now team. It makes you wonder what they know, and what’s next.

Steve Clifford sounds pessimistic about Al Jefferson, Michael-Kidd Gilchrist, Cody Zeller returning to Hornets this season

Milwaukee Bucks v Charlotte Hornets
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The Hornets are playing the Heat right now in a key matchup between teams trying to stay in the playoff race.

A win wouldn’t put the Hornets (11th in the Eastern Conference, 1.5 games out of playoff position) into postseason position – and it wouldn’t give them a roster capable of taking the team over the hump.

Charlotte is playing without Al Jefferson, Michael-Kidd Gilchrist and Cody Zeller, and that could remain the case.

Joseph Goodman of The Miami Herald:

Even if Jefferson gets back on the court, he’ll probably be limited. Not having Zeller to space the floor or Kidd-Gilchrist to relieve pressure on defense would only make Jefferson’s task harder.

The Hornets got off to a horrid start, and it seemed Lance Stephenson would undo them. That they’re still in playoff contention speaks to their resolve and the East’s wretchedness.

But win or lose against Miami tonight, it seems Charlotte is running out of gas as the finish line approaches.

Steve Clifford: Al Jefferson will remain hobbled rest of season

Al Jefferson, Thaddeus Young, Brook Lopez
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Al Jefferson heard a pop when injuring his calf/knee area, though an MRI showed no structural damage.

The Hornets center missed just one game, and he has played fine since, averaging 15.3 points and 7.3 rebounds per game.

But Charlotte has gone 1-5 in that span.

Can the Hornets get back on track? Don’t expect more from Jefferson.

Charlotte coach Steve Clifford, via Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer:

“Al is not going to be 100 percent here the rest of the year. He is just not,” Clifford said

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That’s pretty damaging news to the Hornets’ playoff chances.

They’re still just a half game outside postseason position, but so are the Pacers and Nets. It’s hard to see Charlotte emerging from the pack without a healthy Jefferson.

Bismack Biyombo can help, but this team was built to go through Jefferson in the post. The Hornets are capable of providing different looks, though that’s difficult with Cody Zeller also banged up.

Charlotte is limping to the finish line, and though that might be enough in the East, it probably won’t be – and it significantly reduces the Hornets’ already-low odds of making noise in the playoffs should they qualify.