The Sacramento Kings are a franchise that has been struggling for the best part of two decades at this point, and a lot of that has to do with poor decisions in terms of drafts and trades, like the time they famously passed up on Luka Doncic in the 2018 NBA draft. They haven't been a playoff team since 2006 but the future was looking promising for them when they drafted Tyrese Haliburton with the 12th pick in the 2020 draft.
Not only did Haliburton show signs of immense promise on the court with his ability to score and make plays for the team consistently, but he also seemed like he had bought into the franchise that has struggled to keep hold of any of the stars that have played for them in recent seasons. So it was a shock when they traded Haliburton away to the Indiana Pacers in a deal centered around Domantas Sabonis.
The decision was widely panned by media personalities and fans were also seemingly in disbelief that Haliburton had been traded, but no one seemed more upset than the man himself. Writing for the Players Tribune, Haliburton explained why it seemed so surreal that he was the player that had been dealt.
None of us could believe I was actually going to be leaving. I guarantee that if you had taken a poll of our locker room that morning and were like, “Which guy on this team most wants to be in Sacramento long-term” … everyone would’ve said me. And I think that’s what all those tears and emotions were about, at the end of the day. It felt like something I cared about was ending way too soon.
"I really, really, really was all in on Sacramento. And I wasn’t shy about it. I would tell people, straight up, “I want to be that next C-Webb for this city.” That was my whole mindset. I wanted to become one of those players who got drafted somewhere and built a legacy — on and off the court. I wanted to become someone the people of Sacramento knew was in their corner."
Players in the NBA regularly get criticism for wanting to make a move out of the franchise that believed in them or drafted them, but this is the flip side of the business where they can easily be moved against their wishes. For Sacramento, this could prove to be another costly mistake, something that they might look back at with regret. Haliburton is already settling into the Indiana team, averaging 22.5 points and 11 assists in his first games for his new team.