Kings: Revisiting the Domantas Sabonis trade

Domantas Sabonis, Sacramento Kings. Tyrese Haliburton, Indiana Pacers. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
Domantas Sabonis, Sacramento Kings. Tyrese Haliburton, Indiana Pacers. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) /

Domantas Sabonis finished up his first full season as a member of the Sacramento Kings, so it is time to look back at the deal that brought him out West. First, we can look at how vital Sabonis was to Sacramento’s success this season. The All-Star center averaged 19.1 points, 12.3 rebounds, and 7.3 assists per game on 61.5% shooting. After leading the Kings to a 48-win season, with help from co-All-Star De’Aaron Fox, the duo received All-NBA Third Team honors.

The trade that sent Sabonis from Indiana to Sacramento happened in early February 2022 and looked like this:

At first glance, the trade seems balanced. The Pacers got their franchise point guard, Tyrese Haliburton, and sharpshooter, Buddy Hield, to create a dynamic backcourt. In exchange, the Kings got their franchise big man, a missing piece of their team before the trade. Of course, the Kings had their best season since 2004 while the Pacers were a lottery team, so we could automatically claim the Kings as the trade winner, but let’s dive deeper.

While Domantas Sabonis’ numbers did not change much from Indiana to Sacramento, his impact on the court was as great as we have seen. His career-highs in assists and field goal percentage show he is much more effective in a system such as Sacramento’s, and his adjustment from playing power forward to center was impressive.

The Kings acquired Justin Holiday in the deal, who was dealt (among other pieces) to the Atlanta Hawks a few months later in exchange for sharpshooter Kevin Huerter. The deadly hand-off duo of Sabonis and Huerter is all thanks to the Pacers, as Huerter also had a career-best year in Sacramento.

While Jeremy Lamb has not played in the NBA since finishing the 2021-22 season with Sacramento, and we are yet to see who the Kings draft with the 2023 second-round pick, Sabonis and Huerter have made enough of a difference for the Kings to be happy about this trade.

Tyrese Haliburton and Buddy Hield have been exceptional for the Pacers, but their play has not resulted in wins. Haliburton made a significant leap, averaging 20.7 points and 10.4 assists per game while making the All-Star game. The 23-year-old guard will dominate the game for a long time, but a Sacramento backcourt of De’Aaron Fox and Tyrese Haliburton might not have worked out in the long run.

Overall, the Sacramento Kings won this trade, but the Pacers did not necessarily lose it either.

Kings Trade Grade: A

Pacers Trade Grade: B+