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Revisiting Tyrese Haliburton-for-Domantas Sabonis trade: Why both Kings and Pacers won 2022 deadline deal

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The 76ers and Nets dominated trade deadline conversations last season after they completed the blockbuster deal that sent James Harden to Philadelphia and Ben Simmons to Brooklyn. That transaction hasn’t worked out well for either side.

One 2022 trade deadline transaction has left both parties happy, though. The Kings and Pacers completed a deal involving six players and a future draft pick with Tyrese Haliburton and Domantas Sabonis serving as the centerpieces.

Powered by strong performances from Haliburton and Sabonis, these small-market teams find themselves ahead of a few marquee franchises in the early-season standings. Multiple outlets initially criticized the Kings and gave the Pacers credit for snagging a young, rising guard, but will this ultimately be viewed as the rare win-win trade?

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Kings-Pacers trade details

Kings received…

  • Domantas Sabonis
  • Justin Holiday
  • Jeremy Lamb
  • 2023 second-round pick

Pacers received…

  • Tyrese Haliburton
  • Buddy Hield
  • Tristan Thompson

Why the Kings won the trade

Sacramento could have continued to develop a backcourt of Haliburton and De’Aaron Fox, but the Kings have been stuck in development mode since 2006 when they last reached postseason. They saw an opportunity to acquire an All-Star big man and took it.

So far, so good — Sabonis has played an instrumental role in Sacramento’s start. He is averaging 16.9 points, 11.0 rebounds and 6.4 assists per game in 2022-23, and the Kings are a much better team when he is on the floor (5.1 net rating on vs. minus-3.4 net rating off).

Sabonis can work out of traditional post-ups or as a screener, but what really makes him special is his ability to operate as an offensive hub from the elbows. He can find cutters going backdoor and shooters spotting up from beyond the arc.

Fox has benefited from the not only the presence of Sabonis, but also the clarity of being the primary ball handler following Haliburton’s departure.

He hasn’t seen a huge jump in points and assists, but Fox’s efficiency is way up (career-high 52.2 percent from the field and 38.3 percent on 3-pointers). He just looks like a player who is operating at peak confidence with Sabonis and other capable role players around him.

The Kings may regret letting Haliburton go if he turns into a star and Sabonis leaves in free agency after the 2023-24 season. For now, though, they have a highly productive player who has been clicking with the rest of the roster and could help end the longest postseason drought in league history.

Why the Pacers won the trade

Indiana knew the frontcourt pairing of Sabonis and Myles Turner had a hard ceiling. Something had to change.

Insert Haliburton, one of the most exciting young guards in the NBA. The 22-year-old has been stellar this season, averaging 19.9 points and a league-high 11.3 assists per game. The passing savant has 40 assists and zero turnovers in his last three games.

He perfectly set up Andrew Nembhard for the game-winning 3-pointer in the Pacers’ recent come-from-behind victory over the Lakers.

The front office may have also landed another gem at guard in Bennedict Mathurin, who is the second-leading scorer on the team (19.1 points per game) behind Haliburton. They could form one of the NBA’s best backcourts for years to come.

Rather than waiting too long to deal either Sabonis or Turner, Indiana jumped on an outstanding deal, and it should have Haliburton through his prime years. (Let’s assume the Pacers will eventually present him with a contract extension. That decision should be a no-brainer.)

Throw in the fact that Hield could eventually be flipped for another valuable asset, and it’s easy to see why the Pacers walked away from the 2022 trade deadline as a huge winner.


Credit: sportingnews.com

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