Many questions need to be answered as teams across the league tipoff training camp this week. The regular season is less than a month away, which means there is still some time for player movement, especially for rebuilding teams like the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The Thunder finally seemed on a clear upward trajectory after selecting Chet Holgmren with the No. 2 overall pick of the draft. But he broke his foot in August while playing in Jamal Crawford's Seattle Pro-Am, leaving things more complicated than fans expected in 2022-23.
Even without Holmgren out for the season's duration, the Thunder are still in the throes of a youth movement, meaning incumbent veterans could be moved. However, with such a crowded roster of prospects, some young players could be dealt as well.
Here are two potential trade candidates for the Thunder entering the 2022-23 NBA training camp.
At age 31, Derrick Favors is one of the oldest players in Oklahoma City. The veteran comes off a season averaging career-lows in points (5.3) and rebounds (4.7). He also averaged just 16.7 minutes a night, the second-lowest mark of his career.
While Favors can still provide some good minutes off the bench, Oklahoma City does not seem like the the best fi for him. The team already has Darius Bazley and Jeremiah Robinson-Earl up front, and must also continue developing Aleksej Pokuševski. Additionally, the Thunder traded multiple future first-round picks to the New York Knicks to select Ousmane Dieng at No. 11.
There are many young players OKC needs to develop at forward and center, and Favors' presence could slow that process.
To avoid having the veteran take minutes from the youngsters and create conflict, a trade might be the best solution. With just one year and $10.2 million left on his contract, Favors would be an interesting target for contenders who need depth in the frontcourt.
It is unlikely Favors finish the season with Oklahoma City. Whether via trade or buyout, he will probably be playing in the playoffs with another team come spring.
Contrary to Favors' case, Théo Maledon is just 21 years old and a recent draft pick by the Thunder. After showing some promise as a rookie, his numbers and role decreased in 2021-22.
In his second year in the league, the guard averaged just 7.1 points, 2.6 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game, all down from his debut campaign. Maledon also shot poorly, making only 37.5% of his field goals and 29.3% of his three-pointers. After starting as a rookie, he came off the bench in all but seven of his games in 2021-22, averaging just 17.8 minutes per contest.
While he is still very young, other guards have already surpassed Maledon in the organizational pecking order. Josh Giddey earned All-Rookie Second Team honors last season. Tre Mann averaged 10.4 points per game as a rookie and shot 36% from beyond the arc. Unless he really impresses in training camp, Maledon will likely start 2022-23 as Oklahoma City's third or fourth option at point guard.
The French guard is the most likely young player to be traded in OKC. He might still become a good rotation player, but if he stays with the Thunder, he might never have the chance to show what he can do. Perhaps if he goes to another young team in need of guards, Maledon will finally prove he belongs in the NBA.