NBA Rumors: Kings' De'Aaron Fox Included in Domantas Sabonis Trade Talks at Deadline

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 19, 2022

Sacramento Kings guard De'Aaron Fox (5) in the first half of an NBA basketball game Friday, Jan. 7, 2022, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
AP Photo/David Zalubowski

The Sacramento Kings are reportedly including guard De'Aaron Fox in trade talks for Indiana Pacers forward Domantas Sabonis.

According to Jason Anderson of the Sacramento Bee, Fox was off the table in trade discussions during the offseason, but the Kings have reversed course.

Sacramento is a disappointing 18-28 this season, and it wouldn't even qualify for a postseason play-in game if the playoffs started today, as it is 11th in the Western Conference.

The Kings were also rumored to have been in trade talks for Philadelphia 76ers guard Ben Simmons during the offseason, but one of the hang-ups was that they didn't want to include Fox. That has reportedly changed as well.

Per Anderson, The Athletic's Sam Amick said this week on The Athletic NBA Show podcast that he views Simmons and Sabonis as the Kings' two biggest priorities ahead of the Feb. 10 trade deadline.

Still, it would be somewhat jarring to see Fox get traded, as he is just 24 years old and near the beginning of a five-year, $163 million max contract extension he signed with the Kings in 2020.

Fox took a big leap forward last season and was arguably robbed of his first career All-Star nod, as he averaged 25.2 points, 7.2 assists, 3.5 rebounds, 1.8 three-pointers made and 1.5 steals per game, while shooting 47.7 percent from the field and 32.2 percent from deep.

The expectation was that Fox would match or exceed those numbers in 2021-22, but that hasn't been the case.

In 42 games this season, Fox is averaging 20.9 points, 5.1 assists, 3.7 rebounds, 1.2 steals and 0.9 three-pointers made. He is also shooting 45.7 percent from the floor and a career-worst 25.3 percent from beyond the arc.

Sabonis, 25, is a two-time All-Star who may be on track for a third consecutive All-Star selection this season thanks to averages of 18.9 points, 11.9 rebounds, 4.7 assists and 1.0 steal per game on top of shooting 57.3 percent from the floor and 31.4 percent from three-point range.

While Sabonis' numbers are down a bit from last season when he averaged 20.3 points, 12.0 rebounds, 6.7 assists and 1.2 steals, he has been far more efficient, as he shot 53.5 percent from the field last season.

The Athletic's Shams Charania and Bob Kravitz reported in December that the Pacers were open to a rebuild and trade talks involving Sabonis, center Myles Turner and guard Caris LeVert.

A Sabonis-for-Fox swap could make sense for the Pacers since Fox is slightly younger and signed through 2025-26, while Sabonis is signed through 2023-24.

Like Sacramento, Indiana has been disappointing this season with a 15-29 record that leaves it 13th in the Eastern Conference. That means the Pacers are trending toward missing the playoffs for the second consecutive season after making it in each of the previous five campaigns.

Meanwhile, Sacramento hasn't reached the playoffs since 2005-06, which is the longest active drought in the NBA by 10 years.

Given the Kings' futility for nearly two decades, a big trade like Fox for Sabonis or Simmons could be needed to change the course of the franchise.