Tyrese Harliburton's exit from the Kings was reported to be an emotional affair. After over 100 games with the franchise, the young stud never expected to be on the move so soon.
Nevertheless, he was sent to Indiana last week as part of a deadline-day trade.
In a piece on The Players' Tribune, Haliburton described his experience with the trade in great detail, writing candidly about what a shock it was to be forced out of Sacramento.
According to him, his entire career changed in less than an hour.
Thirty minutes — that’s all it took. Last week, in the span of a half hour, I went from feeling like I’d be in Sacramento for the next decade … to experiencing the biggest surprise of my entire life.
When my agent called, I was just finishing up breakfast at my house, and the first thing I thought was that maybe he was calling to give me the inside scoop on some players our team was looking into getting.
“Hey man, I just wanted to get in touch because I think you might be getting traded.”
I honestly thought he was joking. It was like, Come on now. They’re not trading me. Get out of here. But two seconds later, when it became clear that, actually, he wasn’t joking … I mean, I know this might sound like I’m being dramatic, but you know when you get the news that something bad has happened to a family member or a close friend? And it feels like for a few seconds your heart almost stops? Like there’s just a hollow feeling all through your body? That’s kind of what it was like.
After hanging up, I walked into the bathroom and just sat on the counter by the sink in silence. A few minutes later, my girlfriend came in and asked me what was up. When I told her there was a chance I might get traded, at first she didn’t believe me. Once she could tell I was serious, though, she started to get a little worried. So I was like, “Let’s just wait and see what happens in a few days. No big deal. This is fine.”
A minute or so after that, 90 seconds max, my phone lights up. I look down at the screen and it says Monte. It’s our GM, Monte McNair. And I’m not gonna lie: When I saw that name pop up on my phone, my heart sank. I knew it was over right then.
It was a quick conversation. Pretty straightforward.
“Hey man, I just wanted to let you know that we made a trade, and we’re going to be sending you to Indiana. I wish you the best.”
There were maybe a couple more words after that. We both said thank you. Then I hung up, set my phone down, and started crying my eyes out.
The NBA is a business and trades are just a part of the process. In the case of Haliburton and the Kings, however, there was reason to doubt that they'd part.
Haliburton was loyal to the franchise in a way no player had been since DeMarcus Cousins was years ago. He was all-in on helping rebuild and re-shape a culture that was notorious for being dysfunctional.
To be denied that chance, and get traded by a team you thought was loyal to you must have really hurt.
But now Hali can look forward to a new chapter in Indiana, and hopefully blossom into a star who can lead the Pacers to greatness.
Who knows, in a few years, the Kings might be wishing they never made that call in the first place...