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Kings-Pacers trade: Grading Domantas Sabonis for Tyrese Haliburton swap


Kings-Pacers trade: Grading Domantas Sabonis for Tyrese Haliburton swap

The Indiana Pacers and Sacramento Kings were two teams in desperate need of a shake-up. About 48 hours before the 2022 NBA trade deadline, the franchises agreed to a bold deal headlined by a swap of foundational pieces.

The Pacers have traded Domantas Sabonis, Jeremy Lamb, Justin Holiday, and a 2027 second draft pick to Sacramento for Tyrese Haliburton, Buddy Hield, and Tristan Thompson, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

This is a massive trade that immediately changes both the short-term and long-term outlooks for each franchise. It’s an admission from both sides that their ‘star’ pairings weren’t working. The Kings are breaking up the De’Aaron Fox-Haliburton backcourt, while the Pacers are breaking up the Myles Turner-Sabonis front court.

The Kings were rumored to be interested in Ben Simmons, but ultimately traded their best assets for Sabonis. The Pacers meanwhile finally chose a direction after so much speculation about the status of the Turner-Sabonis pairing. Haliburton should be a piece they can build around for a long time.

Let’s grade this trade from both sides.

The Kings get an All-Star big man to pair with De’Aaron Fox

The Kings had a ton of big men on their roster, but none of them had the talent or credentials of Sabonis. The 6’11, 240-pound Sabonis will turn 26 years old at the end of this season, and already has two All-Star nods to his name. He’s one of the game’s better interior scorers and rebounders, and one of the best passing bigs in the league.

Sabonis can be the hub of an offense at his best. He’s averaging 19 points per game this season while posting a 22.8 percent assist rate that ranks in the 96th percentile of all bigs, per Cleaning the Glass. Sabonis will take some threes — he’s hitting 32.4 percent of his triples on 2.3 attempts per game this season — but he does the majority of his work from the high or low post.

The big question throughout Sabonis’ career has been his ability to anchor a defense as a rim protector. He’s never been a good shot blocker, posting a 0.7 percent block rate this season that ranks in the sixth percentile…

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