After years of finding themselves in the middle of the pack, the Indiana Pacers finally have an upward trajectory, and it’s largely thanks to one man – Tyrese Haliburton.
The Pacers traded Domantas Sabonis for Haliburton at the 2022 deadline, swapping one franchise star for another. But at just 23 years old, Haliburton seems more equipped to lead Indiana into the future.
Mark Cuban wanted to draft now-Indiana Pacers star Tyrese Haliburton to play next to Luka Doncic
The Sacramento Kings made the deal in hopes of shifting their focus to a win-now mindset, which worked out well, while the Pacers decided to look ahead.
However, the Pacers nearly only got the chance to add Tyrese Haliburton because the Kings drafted him in the first place, and according to one NBA owner, that almost didn’t happen.
During an appearance on “The Pat Bev Podcast,” Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban revealed that his squad did everything possible at the 2020 NBA Draft to try and trade up to select Haliburton. (H/t Tony East of All Pacers)
“We did everything we could to trade up and get him. Did everything we could,” Cuban said.
Sacramento selected Haliburton with the 12th pick in the draft, which gave Dallas 11 hypothetical chances to trade up and get him before he went off the board. Unfortunately for the Mavericks, nothing came together in time.
Tim MacMahon of ESPN reported on April 25, 2022, that the Mavericks threw around a package of Jalen Brunson and picks 18 and 31 in the draft in an attempt to move up.
The New York Knicks, Washington Wizards, Phoenix Suns, and San Antonio Spurs had picks eight, nine, 10, and 11 in the draft, meaning they were in the range with which the Mavericks could have traded.
Instead, nothing came together, and the Mavericks were unable to pair Haliburton with Luka Doncic – a combination that would be wreaking havoc on the NBA today.
This past season, Haliburton made his first All-Star team, putting up incredible numbers. He averaged 20.7 points, 3.7 rebounds, and 10.4 assists per game while shooting 49.0% from the field and 40.0% from behind the three-point line.
Rather than competing alongside Doncic in Dallas or De’Aaron Fox in Sacramento, however, Haliburton is leading the way for a Pacers team looking to make waves over the course of the next decade.
Big things should be ahead for the young star.