The 2021-2022 NBA season is still in its infancy, but that doesn't mean we're not already getting some vibes about how the trade deadline is going to shake out.
From players in uncomfortable situations to teams who are already starting to look like buyers (or sellers), it's safe to dust off the crystal ball and make some deadline predictions.
Will Deandre Ayton not getting a max extension put him on the trade block in Phoenix? Will Kyrie Irving eventually get traded for someone who can actually play in home games for the Nets? Which big free-agent signing will already give his team buyer's remorse and wind up on the market?
Here are 10 realistic predictions for the 2022 deadline.
Derrick Favors Gets Bought out by Thunder (if He's Not Traded First)
The Utah Jazz traded Favors to the Thunder right before the start of free agency, including a top-10 protected first-round pick in 2024 in exchange for a 2027 second-round pick and cash considerations.
While Oklahoma City can certainly use the veteran center, the deal was primarily done to pick up another first-round pick, this time from a Utah team that needed to shed salary.
Going from one of the best teams in the NBA to one of the worst can be a culture shock, although we shouldn't expect Favors to be in Oklahoma City for long. For now, the 30-year-old center is being a good sport while also acknowledging that this may not be a long-term relationship.
"I just want to help them out as much as I can, for however long I'm here," Favors said, via Justin Martinez of the Oklahoman. "I just want to help those guys out as much as I can and be that leader, that voice for them that they need whenever they need to ask questions or (are) going through a long season."
The Thunder went through a similar situation the year before, taking on Al Horford in a salary-dump move by the Philadelphia 76ers that also netted them a first-round pick. Horford ended up playing 28 games for OKC before being shut down after the trade deadline to create more playing time for the young talent on the roster. He was later traded to the Boston Celtics this offseason in a deal for Kemba Walker, another salary dump who would eventually be bought out.
See the pattern here?
Favors will be far easier to trade than Horford given his smaller contract (two years, $19.9 million), although he's not as impactful as a player overall.
If the Thunder can't find a trade partner for Favors, look for them to buy the veteran out (a la Walker) and let him find a new home.
Teams Try to Pry Brandon Ingram from Pelicans
Things aren't going great for the Zion Williamson-less Pelicans.
While the star power forward works his way back to the court following foot surgery, New Orleans has begun the season 0-3 with a net rating of minus-13.6.
Rookie second-round pick Herbert Jones has already had to start two games with Williamson out, exposing the lack of depth the Pelicans have in their frontcourt.
Ingram has done everything he can to try and carry New Orleans with averages of 27.0 points, 7.0 rebounds, 6.0 assists and a 46.2 percent mark from three after his first three games, looking well on his way to a second All-Star appearance now at age 24.
If Williamson is out for an extended period of time and Ingram continues to put up huge numbers for a miserable Pelicans team, the 29 other general managers will smell blood in the water.
Of course, New Orleans VP of Basketball Operations David Griffin would be foolish to part with Ingram, who still has four years left on his contract and can't become a free agent until 2025.
Hopefully, Williamson can make a full recovery soon and get back to bullying opponents in the paint. If not, expect there to be plenty of teams checking on Ingram's availability around the deadline.