It’s been one month since the seismic swap that rocked the Kingdom.
The Sacramento Kings brass traded away franchise favorite and budding guard Tyrese Haliburton — in addition to Buddy Hield and Tristan Thompson — to acquire two-time All-Star Domantas Sabonis from the Indiana Pacers. Since that trade, Sacramento has gone 4-8 in what hasn’t been the dream team many had hoped would shake into place when Domas joined the squad.
In an interview with Sam Amick of The Athletic, the big man shared for the first time the extent of his feelings about being traded away from the team that turned him into a star. Sabonis shared that joining a new team, one of infamy, has been ‘exciting’ - and that he wants to re-up the Kings’ culture while thinking for the long-term.
“I’m excited about the whole journey. It sucks that we have that (playoff) drought, but the fact that we can be part of something that can turn it around, you know, that’s the goal. Come in and change the perspective of this organization and what people think. We’re excited that we can be part of that and build it, you know? So I want to stay as long as I can. Everything has to go well, (but) I’m happy here.”
That everything Sabonis refers to in his talk with Amick are the reality of the matter: Sacramento only has Domas through 2024, when he becomes an unrestricted free agent. This puts the goal post at roughly two years for the Kings to gauge whether trading away Haliburton was a generational failure.
It’s nice on the surface to hear things like this from an All-Star. Sacramento knows what it is, the burden they shoulder as the joke of the association. But in this new crop of young players, we saw it with Hali and in De’Aaron Fox’s early years, there’s an emphasis on wanting to be the ones to steer the ship in the right direction. It’s not coming from ownership or personnel, so there really is a palpable feeling that it is up to the roster to prove to the Kingdom that they are better than their past, and furthermore, they are not the ones responsible for it.
With that said, we’ve seen dozens of players come into Sacramento and say these things. Best fans in the world, great atmosphere, wonderful community, etc. Domas’ positivity is certainly better than the alternative, no one is sitting out games or pouting for a trade, but the falsehood that this fanbase has been fleeced with for nearly two decades leaves a jaded taste in the mouths of many. Sabonis said it himself - everything has to go well.