With news that the Indiana Pacers are strongly considering initiating a rebuild, the availability of All-Star big man Domantas Sabonis has been one of the most interesting topics on the trade market over recent weeks.
Although there has been some back and forth on just how available Sabonis is, the consensus is, he could very well be on the move over the coming month-plus.
Below, we break down four potential trade destinations for Sabonis that we believe would actually be realistic.
Alberto de Roa contributed to this article.
The Dallas Mavericks could use another All-Star to place alongside Luka Doncic, particularly one who can score down low and create for others out of their frontcourt position.
The issue is: Can Dallas put together a package enticing enough for the Pacers without losing Kristaps Porzingis?
Sabonis and Porzingis – who has enjoyed a career resurgence this season – would form a potent 4-5 duo, one that would fit well together thanks to Porzingis’ floor-spacing abilities.
One way the Mavericks can try and land Sabonis without losing Porzingis would be to offer Indiana Maxi Kleber, Reggie Bullock and Josh Green, as well as two first-round picks. That gives Indiana draft assets, two rotation pieces they could flip elsewhere for additional draft capital and a former first-round pick in Green to take a flyer on.
If the Pacers are deadset on getting Porzingis in any Sabonis deal, however, and if the Mavericks are willing to budge, they can offer Indiana the Latvian big man and a first-round pick for Sabonis and Jeremy Lamb, thus allowing the Pacers to get that dead money off their books.
Sabonis would be a huge addition for a Mavericks team lacking in top-end talent outside of two players.
New York Knicks
The New York Knicks, who are a greatly disappointing 13-17 over 30 games, are in dire need of a shot in the arm in the form of added talent, and acquiring a player like Sabonis could be the exact type of move they need.
Hit fit with Julius Randle might be a bit tricky, but Randle is shooting 38.9 percent from beyond the arc over the last two campaigns, so the former Kentucky standout might be a good enough shooter to make a frontcourt pairing with the more paint-bound Sabonis viable.
To land Sabonis, the Knicks could go in a couple of different directions.
If they’re willing to sacrifice the young and talented RJ Barrett, whose numbers have regressed a bit this season, New York can then package Barrett along with either Kemba Walker or Alec Burks to make a deal financially feasible, and add a first-round pick to that to sweeten the pot.
If the Knicks don’t want to lose Barrett, they can offer Obi Toppin, Mitchell Robinson and either Walker or Burks to make a deal work, along with lower-level draft capital.
Either way, Sabonis and Randle could be a fearsome duo down low and help the Knicks get back into the thick of the heated playoff race in the East.
The Charlotte Hornets are off to a somewhat surprising 16-15 start this season, and they’ve managed that without getting much out of their center position. Hence, adding a piece like Sabonis to place alongside Gordon Hayward and Miles Bridges, and to run some pick-and-roll with LaMelo Ball, would make a lot of sense for Charlotte.
To make such a move financially viable, the Hornets can offer Indiana a package revolving around Mason Plumlee, PJ Washington and James Bouknight, along with perhaps a protected first-round pick or two second-rounders.
Plumlee is only signed for one more year after this one at a reasonable price (the former Duke standout will be owed $9.1 million next season) while Washington and Bouknight have shown some promise and remain on their rookie-scale contracts. The latter two are the type of players Indiana would like in a Sabonis deal – young, cheap ones who they can develop for the future.
In Charlotte, Sabonis would provide the Hornets with the interior scoring and playmaking they are lacking at the moment and help them make a run in the second half of the season.
The Boston Celtics have been undoubtedly one of the most disappointing teams of the 2021-22 season, sitting 15-15 through 30 games and just eighth in the East, despite the great play of Jayson Tatum.
And although Al Horford has been fantastic this season, Boston could use an upgrade in the frontcourt, like Sabonis, to slide Horford into a bench role where he might be even more effective.
The Celtics can offer Indiana Josh Richardson, Aaron Nesmith, Payton Pritchard and a protected first-round pick to make things work financially, if they really want to land Sabonis.
Richardson is on a team-friendly deal (he’s only signed through one more season where he’ll earn $12.2 million in 2022-23) while Nesmith and Pritchard are on rookie contracts.
Of course, it would hurt Boston to part with the two young pieces in particular, as Pritchard and Nesmith have shown promise and do have potential, but that is the type of price you have to pay to land an All-Star in the NBA, like Sabonis.
Sabonis would provide the Celtics with high-level paint scoring that Boston simply doesn’t have on their roster right now, and could help catapult them back into the East’s elite.