By Michael Marot | The Associated Press
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The Indiana Pacers will look completely different when they return home later this week, while the Sacramento Kings are getting a two-time All-Star.
The teams agreed to a six-player trade Tuesday that will send star forward Domantas Sabonis to Sacramento and emerging point guard Tyrese Haliburton to the Pacers.
The Pacers confirmed the deal following Tuesday night’s 133-112 loss at Atlanta.
The Kings will get Justin Holiday, Jeremy Lamb and a second-round draft pick in addition to Sabonis. Indiana is adding Haliburton, Buddy Hield and Tristan Thompson.
“It’s an exciting trade and it changes the landscape significantly,” said Pacers coach Rick Carlisle, who described Haliburton as “an elite young point guard that affects the game positively in many, many ways.
“We’re getting three players who are good now and in the case of Tyrese, he has a chance to continue to grow. … Finding a franchise-caliber point guard at age 21 is extremely difficult to do.”
The trade was made after Sabonis, Holiday and Lamb participated in a practice before Tuesday night’s game. Carlisle said he spoke with all three players at the team’s hotel and was the first person to tell Sabonis of the trade.
“I just thanked him for an amazing few months from my perspective and several great years from the Pacers’ perspective,” Carlisle said.
The Pacers were left with eight healthy players against Atlanta. Guard Malcolm Brogdon (right Achilles soreness) and forward Isaiah Jackson (right ankle sprain) were held out.
Sabonis gives the Kings an immediate upgrade in the paint. He averages 18.9 points, 12.1 rebounds, and 5.0 assists, and has become a double-double machine. Sacramento’s top rebounder before the deal was Richaun Holmes at 7.9 per game.
Sabonis could make a difference for a team that already has some young, talented players such as point guard De’Aaron Fox and Davion Mitchell. Sabonis also could serve as mentor to other young players — or his arrival could free up the Kings to make even more moves.
The Pacers aren’t waiting to begin what could be a major overhaul.
An injury-depleted roster has Indiana, which started this season with playoff aspirations, lagging near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings. The loss to the Hawks left the Pacers with a four-game losing streak and losses in eight of their last 10 games.
Attendance also has declined this season and some fans have been clamoring for significant changes.
Pacers president of basketball operations Kevin Pritchard appears to be siding with those fans after making two key trades in less than 48 hours.
The first deal, sending Caris LeVert to the Cleveland Cavaliers for the injured Ricky Rubio and three draft picks, including a lottery-protected first-round selection this summer, came Sunday. Rubio has already been ruled out for the rest of this season and has an expiring contract.
Now, Pritchard has pulled off another major trade by getting Haliburton, who the Kings took with the No. 12 overall pick in 2020. He’s averaging 14.3 points, is 11th in the NBA with 7.4 assists and tied for sixth with 1.7 steals. The Pacers believe Haliburton can become the elite point guard they’ve been seeking.
They’re also getting Hield, a 6-foot-4 shooting guard who is third in the NBA in 3-pointers.
“I can’t get into specifics about individual players that are coming our way but suffice it to say that certain needs were addressed,” Carlisle said when asked about the team’s added ability to shoot 3-pointers.
“That’s a very good thing and a positive thing. From here it will be a fun thing putting it together and putting all these new pieces and melding it together going forward. It will be a challenge but it will be a challenge that we love.”
Thompson could provide depth in the post, where Indiana has been extremely thin lately. And his expiring contract was also attractive because it could help free up salary-cap room to help the Pacers become a player in free agency this summer.
AP Sports Writer Charles Odum in Atlanta contributed to this report.