Matt Barnes: Haliburton ‘in tears' after Kings' trade


When the news broke that Kings’ rising star point guard Tyrese Haliburton was being traded to the Indiana Pacers, the entire NBA world was in shock, including Haliburton himself.

Sacramento sent Haliburton, Buddy Hield and Tristan Thompson to Indiana for Domantas Sabonis, Justin Holiday, Jeremy Lamb and a 2023 second-round draft pick.

Like many others, the trade hit home for 14-year NBA veteran and current NBC Sports California analyst Matt Barnes, who grew up in the Sacramento area and even spent some of his time in the league with the Kings. 

“To make any kind of significant move you’re going to have to give up a significant piece,” Barnes said on Kings Pregame Live before the Kings hosted the Minnesota Timberwolves on Tuesday. “I think this is very emotional for the Kings fan base, the city and particularly the team.”

In his second year in the league, Haliburton was averaging 14.3 points, 7.4 assists and 3.9 rebounds per game with the Kings. 

And the 21-year-old was only getting better day by day. 

Just last weekend, Haliburton dished out a career-high 17 assists in the Kings' 113-103 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder at Golden 1 Center on Saturday. One week prior, Haliburton exploded for a career-high 38 points in the Kings’ heartbreaking 103-101 loss to the 76ers in Philadelphia. 

Haliburton and Kings rookie Davion Mitchell were recently named to the NBA Rising Stars Game rosters. 

It was a move no one saw coming, not even Haliburton. 

“This was a gut-punch to the team,” Barnes explained on Tuesday. “I’ve talked to sources close to the team. The team was in shock, devastated; Tyrese was in tears. This is something he had bought into not only as he was emerging on the court as a potential star, but also emerging as a team leader on a voiceless team. So I think this one shocked everyone in the trade. This is not downgrading who we’re getting in return, but this was definitely an emotional day for Kings fans, the coaching staff and the players.”

Barnes acknowledged the talent that Sabonis is as a 20-10-5 player and two-time All-Star. 

But the trade still didn’t completely sit right with Barnes. 

“What confuses me is you trade away the guy that does the best job at getting everybody the ball,” Barnes said. “And also you’re adding Sabonis with Rashaun Holmes, to me that’s really clogging the paint up, so is there going to be space for Sabonis to maneuver as he was able to before? Because [Indiana Pacers] Myles Turner was able to step out and really let Sabonis do his thing down there in the mid-post and in the block area. So again, a head-scratcher, a hell of a talent in Sabonis, Jeremy Lamb and Holiday so they’re getting some solid stuff in return but again, I just think this is a very emotional trade. 

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Emotions aside, this is a business at the end of the day. Fans have a right to express how they feel with the trade, but are going to have to wait and see how it all unfolds for the remainder of the season and the years after. 

But given how much Sactown loved and loves Haliburton, it’s hard to think about what could’ve been. 

“I think the backcourt we had, everyone seen it wasn’t working so they had to make a move,” Barnes said. "I think the hardest part of this trade is what is Tyrese going to turn into? He’s year by year improved himself. Is he going to be one of the best players in this league? We don’t know. We know what we’re getting with everyone else in this trade. Sabonis is an established player. Everyone else we moved around is an established player. Do we know what Tyrese Haliburton is going to be in three to five years and is this going to come back to bite the organization in the butt because they gave up on someone who was so young and showing so much promise?” 

We’ll have to wait and see. 

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