By Morris Phillips
SACRAMENTO–Kings’ fans already knew they have to patient and resilient, but they certainly didn’t know bidding adieu to their brightest, young star was the harsh addition to that reality.
Their message to the Kings’ organization:
It’s a lot (more) to ask.
Tyrese Haliburton was dealt on Tuesday to Indiana along with Buddy Hield and Tristan Thompson for Domantas Sabonis, Justin Holiday, Jeremy Lamb and a second-round pick in 2023.
Throughout the league, the reaction was the same, why move Haliburton, a fan favorite that was a steal as the 12th pick in the 2020 Draft, who had posted career bests in points (38) and assists (17) in separate games in the last two weeks?
Well, the faltering Kings had to move someone, and no other Sacramento player possessed Haliburton’s trade value, reference the fact the move fetched an All-Star in Sabonis, and two quality, veteran additions to the team’s backcourt, which was desperate for a defensive upgrade, which they got.
In addition, Hield’s declining numbers didn’t match his sizeable contract, which has two years remaining, and the 25-year old Sabonis has a far friendlier deal that has him also signed for two more seasons.
But Haliburton is viewed as the most promising player in the deal, and that tilts it towards the Pacers.
The Kings took the floor Tuesday without the three traded players, but also without Richaun Holmes due to personal reasons, and Marvin Bagley, who has a sprained ankle. That left the hosts without much of defensive presence, and the Wolves pounced with 73 first half points, and 22 made threes in the game. The Kings trailed by 11 at the half, and showed life early in the third when they cut the deficit to four, but the Wolves seized control for good at that juncture.
Karl-Anthony Towns led Minnesota with 24 points, and Malik Beasley was spectacular off the bench with 21, consisting of seven made threes. Naz Reid added 12, and Jordan McLaughlin added 11, as did Taurean Prince.
Ironically, Beasley has also been the subject of trade speculation with the trade deadline approaching on Thursday at 12:00pm. His play and his words afterwards displayed his focus.
“This is my sixth year in the league, and I’ve been traded before,” he said. “The only thing you can do is control what you can control. … I’d rather be here, but it’s a business, so you can never know what can happen.”
The Kings got 29 from De’Aaron Fox and 21 from Harrison Barnes. Rebounding (49-38 for the Wolves) hurt the Kings, as did their 19 turnovers.
The Kings have dropped 14 of 18 and sit in 13th place in the Western Conference.
The clubs get a quick turnaround and face each other again on Wednesday at the Golden 1 Center.