Reflecting on the Sacramento Kings trade that angered an entire fanbase

Tyrese Hailburton (Credit: Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports)
Tyrese Hailburton (Credit: Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports) /

On February 8, 2022, the Sacramento Kings traded Tyrese Haliburton to the Indiana Pacers, and it hurt. It hurt a lot.

It was a good trade, but it just felt wrong. Haliburton had embraced Sacramento. His high basketball I.Q. and his infectious personality were just a couple of reasons he had quickly become a fan favorite. In Haliburton’s last game in a Kings’ uniform, he dropped 17 assists against the Thunder. It didn’t feel like he was the player to trade.

I had called him one of the Kings’ two untouchables in my basketball discussions.

After the trade, many were quick to compare the Haliburton-for-Sabonis trade to the Richmond-for-Webber trade in the 90s which led to the greatest Sacramento Kings era ever. I understand the comparisons, but I think of it in a different way.

The trade reminded me of the Jason Williams for Mike Bibby trade. Jason Williams is my favorite Sacramento Kings player ever. He was electrifying with his court vision and unexpected passes. I remember running outside with my best friend to practice the elbow pass after the first time I saw it.

To this day, I blame Jason Williams, Coach Pete Carril, and Coach Rick Adelman for my hardships. I have never been to Sacramento. I have never stepped foot in California, yet I am a die-hard Kings fan because of the exciting plays of Jason Williams and the beautiful basketball Carril and Adelman brought to the NBA.

So, when Jason Williams was traded, I was upset. I declared I would never watch another Kings game again. I believed all the excitement was gone. I was wrong. Bibby was different. In my mind, he wasn’t Jason Williams, but he was a great addition that the team needed. His skillset made the Kings better.

The Kings trading Haliburton remains tough to swallow

Fast forward to February 8th, and I remember how angry I was that the Kings traded Haliburton. It reminded me a lot of when Jason Williams was traded. It hurt. It felt like a punch to the gut. I texted a group of friends asking, “How can you trade a player who just dropped 17 assists in his last game?”

To make things worse, articles and videos came out explaining Haliburton’s reaction to the trade. To see how much he was hurting was heartbreaking.

The NBA is a business, and I’m sure it wasn’t easy for Monte McNair to trade the first player he ever drafted for the Kings, but this was tough on everyone.

It had nothing to do with Domantas Sabonis. I love Sabonis. I loved his father, who was a brilliant basketball player even at an older NBA age. This was about a great player and person who had accepted the flawed organization that has been the punchline of many NBA jokes being traded away when it felt like he was one of the bright spots of the season.

A player who didn’t have to be traded. He could have come off the bench (which I believed and still do believe was what should have been happening from the start) until he felt comfortable being more aggressive and looking for his shot. Putting the best team out there is more important than putting the best players out there.

However, Haliburton is now in Indiana, and I wish him the best. It looks like a great place for him. I hope he is happy, and I hope he thrives. I will track his progress and root for him whenever he doesn’t play against the Kings.

Sabonis is now in Sacramento. He is fantastic and hopefully helps the Kings separate from the negative cloud that follows the organization’s every move. Hopefully, he and De’Aaron Fox lead the Kings back to the NBA Playoffs.

And I am still here. For better or worse, I will always be a Sacramento Kings fan. It is tough. Some days it hurts more than others. June 28th, 2001 was one of those days. February 8th, 2022 was another, but I can’t stop being a Kings fan.

I wish I could. It probably would be better for my health if I could just quit the Kings, but I can’t and it is all because of three men who brought beautiful and exciting basketball to the organization many years ago.

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Jason Williams. Coach Carril. Coach Adelman. I blame you all for my pain.