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“Future Warrior” Domantas Sabonis is now a Current Sacramento King

In what’s been a wild trade deadline so far, Indiana sent rumored trade target Sabonis and former NBA champion Justin Holiday to Golden State’s neighbors to the east.

Indiana Pacers vs. Golden State Warriors
Domantas Sabonis, displaying the fleet-footed defense Sacramento craves. And check out that Curry haircut!
Jane Tyska/Digital First Media/East Bay Times via Getty Images

For months at the end of 2021, Domantas Sabonis was the subject of trade speculation with the Golden State Warriors. Would the Warriors give up a young prospect to get him? Would the rebounding and scoring of Sabonis make up for his defensive deficiencies? Today, a Northern California team did give up a promising young player to get Sabonis - but it was the Sacramento Kings.

The Indiana Pacers traded the 25-year-old Sabonis, a two-time All-Star, along with Jeremy Lamb and Golden State Warriors legend Justin Holiday to the Kings in exchange for last year’s lottery pick, Tyrese Haliburton, along with sharpshooter Buddy Hield and Tristan Thompson, whose last relevant NBA moments involved taking cheap shots and yelling at Draymond Green while getting swept in the 2018 Finals.

Thompson is likely just salary filler in the trade, although it’s possible that the Kings were simply doing Khloe Kardashian a favor by sending Thompson out of the state.

The Kings also received a 2027 second-round pick in this deal, which means they’re likely getting a guy who wasn’t alive yet the last time Sacramento made the playoffs in 2006.

It’s a dramatic roster shakeup for the Kings, who apparently decided that Haliburton wasn’t a good fit alongside De’Aaron Fox and rookie Davion Mitchell, another Warriors front office favorite who lit up the Dubs last month. Sacramento seems to covet the same kind of players as the Warriors - Haliburton was a rumored Warriors target if they traded out of the second pick in 2020 - but they also love former Warriors, with Harrison “The Black Falcon” Barnes and two-time champion Damian Jones already on the roster. Vivek Ranadive used to be a minority owner of the Warriors before purchasing the Kings, so perhaps he’s trying to recapture the #FullSquad magic.

Or maybe Vivek saw Justin Holiday stun the Warriors last month and decided he had to have him at all costs.

Sabonis certainly beefs up Sacramento’s front court, averaging 18.9 points and 12.1 rebounds for Indiana this season, who already dealt Caris Levert to Cleveland this week. The Kings may move on from the No. 2 pick from 2018, Marvin Bagley, before Thursday’s trade deadline. Bagley, who was taken one spot ahead of Luka Doncic and three ahead of Trae Young, fell out of the rotation under former coach Luke Walton (also a former Warrior), and would appear to be redundant with Sabonis - plus he’s a restricted free agent this summer. Now the Warriors get to face Sabonis twice as often.

Holiday and Lamb should get some time off the bench, with Holiday reconnecting with Kings head coach, former Warriors assistant Alvin Gentry. As for Indiana, Haliburton is the big prize, leading the King sin minutes while averaging 14.3 points, 7.4 assists, and 1.7 steals per game. He also shoots 41% from three-point range and he’s 21 years old. Why was Sacramento desperate to dump this guy again?

It’s another big move for Indiana as they go through a long-awaited teardown of their roster. Considering how well the Pacers reserves played in an overtime win over the Warriors in January, it might not be the worst idea. Buddy Hield improves Indiana’s abysmal long-distance shooting, though he could be trade bait in the off-season. Hield has shot 44% from three-point range against Golden State, so the Warriors are probably happy to get him out of their division. It’s still possible Indiana could move another long-rumored Warriors trade target, Myles Turner, though it seems highly unlikely he’d end up at the Chase Center.

The trade deadline is Thursday, February 10th at 3 PM EST, so the Kings still have a few days to deal for Alfonzo McKinnie, Mychal Mulder, and Eric Paschall.