Last Word On Basketball

Sacramento Kings and Indiana Pacers Blockbuster Deal

Domantas Sabonis is the newest Sacramento King

DETROIT, MICHIGAN - FEBRUARY 11: Domantas Sabonis #11 of the Indiana Pacers looks at the scoreboard during the first quarter of the game against the Detroit Pistons at Little Caesars Arena on February 11, 2021 in Detroit, Michigan. Indiana defeated Detroit 111-95. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Leon Halip/Leon Halip)

The Kings and Pacers made a huge trade involving Haliburton and Sabonis today, shocking the NBA world in the process. The Indiana Pacers are sending their two-time All-Star Forward Domantas Sabonis to the Sacramento Kings for a package headlined by Tyrese Haliburton, according to ESPN insider Adrian Wojnarowski. This deal addresses the Kings’ need for a dominant forward, and the Pacers need to rebuild with a young playmaker. Let’s have a look at what this means for both teams and who I feel won the trade.

Kings Trade Shocks NBA Executives

Kings Receive: Domantas Sabonis, Jeremy Lamb, Justin Holiday

Pacers Receive: Tyrese Haliburton, Buddy Hield, Tristan Thompson 

Indiana Pacers Perspective

Indiana took the decision to rebuild and started the process by dealing Caris LeVert earlier for Ricky Rubio‘s expiring contract and draft picks. After falling out of the playoff race the Pacers quickly moved to get tear it down. They aimed to gain cap flexibility and acquire younger assets with upside before the trade deadline. They most certainly have done so by acquiring Tyrese Haliburton. Haliburton promises to be a tremendous asset moving forward for the Pacers.

Haliburton is averaging 9.4 assists and 17 points in his last 24 games. Also averaging over 40% from three-point range for his career. He had a very solid rookie year finishing in the top 3 in rookie of the year voting. He’s having an even better sophomore year, and the Pacers have to be delighted to have lured the Kings into dealing him.

Dealing Sabonis will not be easy to overcome. However, with Rick Carlisle at the helm, they can now move toward a more modern NBA offense with a dynamic backcourt of Chris Duarte and Haliburton. Additionally, they gain cap flexibility moving forward. Acquiring Buddy Hield gives them a potent threat from the perimeter also. He should have value as a role player in a scoring role, or in a future trade. Tristan Thompson is a versatile big man who can be a solid player off the bench.

Sacramento Kings Perspective

The Sacramento Kings had a major balance issue on their roster. They had a logjam at point guard and few options at Power Forward. After drafting guard Davion Mitchell despite already having young playmakers Haliburton and De’Aaron Fox, it was clear one of them would need to be moved down the line. Perhaps the only surprise is the one they chose to move.

For the Kings, however, they benefit from acquiring the best forward available on the market. Sabonis automatically becomes their best player and first All-Star caliber player since DeMarcus Cousins. He’s consistently been a beast in the paint, gobbles up rebounds, and is an able play-maker for a big man. His numbers attest to this. In his last three seasons, he’s averaged at least 12 rebounds, 5 assists, and 19 points per game. As a further source of comparison, the only other player to average these numbers is Giannis Antetokounmpo. It’s clear he’s keeping excellent company and is a really nice get for the Kings. However, the cost is massive.

Pacers, Kings Trade Winner

I’m going with the Pacers here. Landing a player few in the league thought was available wins the trade. The Kings got the biggest name of the deal clearly though.

I’m torn with my feelings on this trade for the Kings. On one hand, they’ve acquired the best player in the trade package, and a legitimate All-Star talent to build around.

On the other hand, trading Haliburton- a high IQ playmaker and steal of the 2020 draft, feels too great a cost. Sabonis is an elite talent. However, he is not good defensively which remains an absurdly big problem in Sacramento. Despite being a monster in the paint, he is not a threat from range. Only averaging 32% from range in his career. With the Kings trading Hield and Haliburton, they have downgraded from the perimeter.

De’Aaron Fox

Deciding to keep Fox is a surprise. Despite how dynamic a player he is, it was expected he would be moved due to his max deal. For a team dwelling near the bottom of the Western Conference, they have now gone all-in on two major contracts. This is a surprise considering where they are as a team. Neither Fox nor Sabonis, for as elite as their skill sets are, have proven to be able to win at the NBA level. It would perhaps have been more prudent to keep hold of Tyrese on a rookie contract, for cap flexibility purposes, and explore a Fox deal.

On paper, however, it is a tantalizing duo. Barring any further trades, Harrison Barnes and Richaun Holmes, are both underrated players, forming an exciting offensive team.

Pacers Look to the Future

I feel the Pacers got the steal of the deal in Haliburton. As good as Sabonis has been for them this year, they were languishing 13th in the Eastern Conference. It was known around the league Sabonis would be available at the deadline. To get a player whom most of the league assumed wasn’t available in Haliburton, they have to be delighted to have landed him for a player readily available. Whilst their full vision of the rebuild is yet to be realized, it is off to a tremendous start here. Although the Pacers lose a star, they’ve gained significantly in upside. Pairing Duarte and Haliburton together is an exciting young duo to form their backcourt for many years to come.

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