Kings linked to Pacers, 76ers trade talk; no shot at Sabonis


Philadelphia 76ers’ Ben Simmons (25) dunks against Indiana Pacers’ Domantas Sabonis (11) during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Tuesday, May 11, 2021, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)


The winds of change are whipping through the streets of Sacramento, but to this point the landscape remains the same with less than a month to go before the NBA trade deadline.

The story thus far in Sacramento and throughout the league is what has not happened. The Ben Simmons standoff in Philadelphia has created a stalemate around the league, but business is picking up as the trade deadline approaches.

The Kings have been linked to Simmons talks with the Philadelphia 76ers for months. Now they are being linked to the Indiana Pacers, who are reportedly entertaining offers for Domantas Sabonis, Myles Turner and Caris LeVert.

The Kings are not believed to be a player in discussions for Sabonis, a league source told The Sacramento Bee, but one recent report suggested they have shown interest in Turner. The Kings are reportedly drawing heavy interest in De’Aaron Fox, but the organization has signaled a desire to continue building around the backcourt of Fox and Tyrese Haliburton.

Kings general manager Monte McNair discussed his approach to the trade deadline Friday on “The Carmichael Dave Show with Jason Ross” on Sports 1140 KHTK, the team’s flagship radio station. Despite their 17-27 record, McNair asserted the Kings are still seeking a path to the playoffs after 15 consecutive losing seasons, saying he wants to bolster the roster rather than tearing it down.

“The playoffs remain the goal,” McNair said. “We do not want to take a long road back to the playoffs, but we do want to build a consistent winner here. I also think we’re not going to make a rash move to try to go all in for a one-year shot, so we’re continuing to find that balance, but I don’t think at all it’s in the cards to take some sort of big step back and take the long rebuild route. I don’t think that’s what we need.”

Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer reported Thursday the Dallas Mavericks, Minnesota Timberwolves, New York Knicks, Charlotte Hornets, Portland Trail Blazers and Kings have expressed interest in Turner, a 25-year-old center in the third year of a four-year, $70 million contract. Fischer wrote that Turner appears to be “the likeliest Indiana player to be traded before the deadline,” noting Indiana’s asking price for the league’s leading shot blocker is said to include multiple first-round picks.

The price for Sabonis — a 25-year-old two-time All-Star in the second year of a four-year, $74.9 million deal — appears to be much higher. The Pacers want an All-Star caliber player in return, and they have received offers reaching that threshold, a source told The Bee. Fox has All-Star potential, but he has yet to achive that status despite averaging 25.2 points and 7.2 assists last season.

The Kings were not willing to entertain the thought of trading Fox or Haliburton last summer, but the situation in Sacramento has changed as pressure within the organization continues to mount. The organization still sees Fox and Haliburton as cornerstone players, but The Athletic’s Sam Amick recently reported McNair has a green light to do whatever is necessary to improve the roster.

The Kings would rather make a meaningful move involving some combination of Buddy Hield, Marvin Bagley III, Harrison Barnes and Tristan Thompson, but no player is off the table.

Fox addressed trade rumors in an interview with Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports, who reported the Kings have received “an abundance of interest” in the former Kentucky star.

“You definitely think about potentially being traded because we are struggling,” Fox said. “If you do have a change of scenery, it changes everything. I’ve been here for five years. I’ve built a life here, a family here. … But I’ve been through some deadlines. I’ve seen people get traded at the last second. You try not to think about it, but you know it’s a business and anything can happen. I’m not sure what’s going to happen. Obviously, you see reports on Twitter. Am I worried about it? No. Can it happen? Yeah, it can definitely happen.”

Haynes reported the 76ers canvassed the prospect of a trade involving Fox and Simmons as recently as a few days ago, but the “dialogue remains exploratory.” There are reports indicating the Kings and 76ers have also discussed a larger deal that would include Tobias Harris, but Philadelphia’s exorbitant asking price for Simmons continues to hinder discussions.

Sacramento has the contracts and draft capital to pull off a blockbuster deal, but the weight of the contracts for Simmons and Harris would be another huge consideration for the Kings. Simmons is in the second year of a five-year, $177.2 million contract. Harris is in the third year of a five-year, $180 million deal. The two of them are owed nearly $70 million this season and $73 million next season.

This story was originally published January 14, 2022 5:54 PM.

Jason Anderson is an award-winning sportswriter for The Sacramento Bee. He started his journalism career at The Bee more than 20 years ago and returned to cover the Sacramento Kings in September 2018.

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