Feb. 8, 2022 will be a day Sacramento Kings fans remember for many years to come. The day they traded Tyrese Haliburton away and got Domantas Sabonis in return.
Whether or not Kings fans will remember this day in a good way or a bad way is yet to be determined. Haliburton, however, has made it well known exactly how he feels about last season’s deal.
In a recent interview with Alex Kennedy of Basketball News, Haliburton proclaimed his true thoughts and emotions from both before and after the deal was made.
“Before I got traded, I felt invincible,” Haliburton told Basketball News. “I was playing really well. Right before I got traded, I had 13 [points] and 17 [assists]. They kept bringing up trade rumors and I wouldn’t even bat an eye because I’m like, ‘There’s no way that they actually would trade me.’ I wasn’t worried. And I think that [trade] just made me look at having more self-awareness and realizing I’m not bigger than the ultimate picture.”
Before Feb. 8, most people around the league would have laughed at the notion of the Kings giving up Haliburton for anyone except Ben Simmons. There had been rumors for months that Sacramento was in the sweepstakes for Simmons and would be giving up either Haliburton of De’Aaron Fox to do so.
During that part of the season, Fox had missed a lot of time for a number of reasons and was sadly very inconsistent when he was available. This led to Haliburton being handed the reins and an opportunity to prove why he should be kept instead of Fox. And he did just that:
- Feb. 5: 13 points, 17 assists, 6 rebounds
- Feb. 2: 12 points, 11 assists, 4 steals
- Jan. 29: 38 points, 7 assists, 5-9 3PT
- Jan. 22: 24 points, 12 assists, 6 rebounds, 5-8 3PT
An impressive run for a second year player by any standards. Not only did he put the rest of the league on notice that he has what it takes to be an elite playmaker and scorer, but also won the hearts of many that favored Fox.
However, the potential he showed in that run may have been what led to the Indiana Pacers wanting him in the end. Though a blockbuster trade involving Sacramento was something many people in the NBA world foresaw, the news still came as a shock to many. Especially Haliburton.
“I’m not gonna lie — for a while, it was just complete resentment towards, honestly, everybody in the organization if I’m being quite frank, even people who had nothing to do with [the trade],” Haliburton told Basketball News. “It was just resentment towards the organization as a whole. And that was so immature of me. It’s funny — the other day I was just writing down regrets I have in my life, unfulfilled expectations and resentments, and the only resentment I could come up with in my life right now is the Sacramento Kings. And it’s like, I don’t want to hold onto that.”
Although he is now the centerpiece of a rebuilding franchise with a rich basketball history, the pain of being cut by a place he called home still burns to this day.
It is well known that Haliburton had accepted Sacramento as the city he wanted to build his legacy in. When most people think of the Kings, they think of a franchise that is seemingly cursed to remain mediocre. Not Haliburton. He made it his goal to bring the Kings out of the shadows and back to what they were in the Chris Webber era. Ironically, he was swapped for a star forward with great passing ability like Webber had.
Haliburton saw himself as the one that would change the Kings’ identity, and he wasn’t wrong. He just didn’t foresee his exile as the catalyst for said change.
For Haliburton, it will simply be a matter of time before the sense of betrayal he feels fades away. However, only time will tell if the Kings will be thankful or regretful for not sticking with him.