The Indiana Pacers could very well look to deal star forward Domantas Sabonis ahead of the February NBA trade deadline.
It was noted earlier in December that the Pacers were looking to go into full-scale rebuild mode by moving either Sabonis or fellow star Myles Turner.
More recently, Matt Moore of the Action Network reported that Sabonis wants out of dodge and has been unhappy in Indiana for some time now.
Enter into the equation previous interest in the two-time All-Star from the reigning Western Conference champion Phoenix Suns.
For the 22-5 Suns, it might not make sense to mess with a good thing. Then again, we’re talking about one of the most-skilled bigs in the NBA in that of Sabonis. Still only 25, the Oregon native is averaging 19.2 points, 12.1 rebounds and 5.5 assists on 55% shooting since the start of the 2019-20 season.
How a Domantas Sabonis trade to the Phoenix Suns might look
Some have speculated that Deandre Ayton would have to be involved. As an under-the-radar MVP candidate this season, we’re just not seeing Phoenix moving the 23-year-old former No. 1 pick. Even with his contract status beyond 2021-22 up in the air, Ayton figures too much into the Suns’ long-term plans. The idea would be to team him up with Sabonis in the frontcourt, not move him.
Instead, the Suns would have to entice Indiana with a combination of draft picks and young players. The salaries would also have to match given Phoenix’ cap situation. This is where it gets difficult.
However, there’s some good news on this front for the Suns. They could realistically offer up first-round picks in 2024 and 2026 as part of a package for Sabonis. That takes care of the draft pick component to this.
As for players headed to Indiana in a hypothetical Domantas Sabonis trade, we’re sure the Pacers would demand three-and-D wing Mikal Bridges. The 25-year-old former first-round pick is already among the best wing defenders in the NBA. Just ask Stephen Curry. He’s also shooting a stellar 54% from the field this season, including a 41% mark from three-point range.
Phoenix just signed Bridges to a four-year, $90.9 million extension back in October. That would be taken into account when it comes to the finances of this deal. From there, the Pacers add 2021 top-10 pick Jalen Smith and someone like Jae Crowder to flip for other assets.
- Phoenix Suns get: Domantas Sabonis
- Indiana Pacers get: Two first-round picks, Mikal Bridges, Jalen Smith, Jae Crowder
That might be a hefty price to pay, but it would also set up a potentially dominant starting five for a Suns team facing stiff competition out west by the league-best Golden State Warriors and an elite Utah Jazz team.
We’re talking about a core five of Chris Paul, Devin Booker, Cameron Johnson, Domantas Sabonis, Deandre Ayton.