How experts graded Kings' blockbuster Sabonis-Haliburton trade


The Kings and Indiana Pacers certainly made a splash Tuesday, just two days before the NBA trade deadline.

Sacramento and Indiana completed a blockbuster trade featuring Tyrese Haliburton and Domantas Sabonis that garnered plenty of reaction from the NBA community. 

Here are the initial grades for the big trade. 

Sports Illustrated

Pacers: A+

"For a team trying to rebuild, it’s hard to make a better move than the one the Pacers made here," writes Rohan Nadkarni. "Sabonis is a good player, but he’s a complementary star who is better suited next to elite talent than he was as the lead man in Indy, where the team was ultimately going nowhere. Haliburton is young, an outstanding shooter, a willing passer and playmaker, and he can be the focal point of what comes next for the Pacers."

Kings: G for Good Lord. H for Huh?

"There are no letters to describe the Kings or a plane on which to grade them that would make sense for the current reality we occupy," Nadkarni writes. "Even if Haliburton is not some five-time All-Star in waiting, how does Sacramento give him and Hield up in exchange for anyone less than a superstar? Sabonis is a very good player, but he himself is a fringe All-Star who isn’t going to help this team’s defensive issues."


Kings grade: C

"Sabonis is a young and productive big man on a below-market contract that will pay him $20 million next season and $21 million in 2023-24," writes Ricky O'Donnell. "It’s difficult to find an All-Star caliber player on a more team-friendly deal, rookie contracts aside. There’s no doubt he’s a major talent upgrade in the frontcourt for Sacramento. This deal still, unfortunately, reeks of the Kings making another shortsighted move yet again."

Pacers grade: A

"The Pacers were always destined to break up the Sabonis-Turner pairing," O'Donnell writes. "Getting a talent like Haliburton in return for splitting up that pairing seems like a big win for Indiana. The Pacers suddenly look like they have a bright future ahead of them. Haliburton and Durate is a super young, super intriguing backcourt with size and shooting."

USA Today Sports

Kings grade: C-

"Domantas Sabonis is a fantastic player," writes Mike D. Sykes. "He’s a burly center who has a lot of gravity and lots of skill as a playmaker. His averages of 18.9 points, 12.1 rebounds and 5 assists are extremely impressive. Nikola Jokic is the only playmaking big in the league who is better at running an offense and spreading the love.

"With that being said, this trade is absolutely ridiculous on the Kings’ part. It makes no sense."

Pacers grade: B+

"The Pacers made out like bandits here," Sykes added. "They didn’t get exactly what they were looking for in the deal — this certainly isn’t the Nikola Vucevic trade from last year.

"But Haliburton is better than any player the Magic got back for Vucevic last season. It’s not a draft pick, but it will certainly suffice."

CBS Sports 

Indiana Pacers grade: A-

"The Pacers aren't exactly known for blockbusters, and the years of mediocrity that preceded this one are a testament to their cautious approach," writes Sam Quinn. "Indiana simply doesn't tank, yet right now, they've managed to position themselves quite well for the sort of on-the-fly rebuild Simon wants."

Sacramento Kings grade: C+

"This grade should really be an incomplete," Quinn adds. "The Kings clearly aren't done yet. At the very least,  a Richaun Holmes trade appears imminent now. Sabonis might have been able to coexist with Turner, but Turner is a stellar 3-point shooter by center standards. Holmes has taken five 3's all season. The most sensible deal there would be a Holmes-for-P.J. Washington swap with Charlotte."

The early reaction to the blockbuster trade was not necessarily positive for the Kings, as the disparities in these grades have shown. 

RELATED: Report: 76ers wanted both Haliburton, Fox in Simmons trade

The addition of Sabonis appears to be well-received, although the loss of Haliburton outweighs the positives in many experts' eyes. 

Where the Kings go from here remains to be seen. Only time will tell if this trade ends up working out for Sacramento. 

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