Kings’ Domantas Sabonis selected as NBA All-Star
Kings guard Fox snubbed despite role in team’s rise
It’s been quite some time since the Kings sent a player to the NBA All-Star Game, but the team’s travel planner can start making arrangements to send Domantas Sabonis to Salt Lake City.
Sabonis was named a Western Conference AllStar when reserves were announced Thursday. He joins a pool of 24 players who will grace one of the game’s grandest stages when the AllStar Game is played Feb. 19 at Vivint Arena, home of the Utah Jazz.
Sabonis has steadily strengthened his All-Star campaign throughout the season while helping the Kings (29-21) climb to third in the West. He leads the NBA with 39 double-doubles despite playing with a broken thumb.
Sabonis made two All-Star appearances with the Indiana Pacers in 2020 and 2021. This is his first with the Kings, who acquired him last season in a blockbuster deal that sent Tyrese Haliburton and Buddy Hield to Indiana.
As fate would have it, the Kings are currently in Indianapolis to play the Pacers on Friday at Gainbridge Fieldhouse. And as fate would have it, Haliburton, a third-year guard who the Kings selected with the No. 12 pick in the 2020 NBA draft, earned his first All-Star selection.
Kings point guard De’Aaron Fox was not selected despite leading the NBA in clutch scoring and playing a huge role in Sacramento’s success. Fox was prominently mentioned as one of the biggest All-Star snubs when the TNT crew of Ernie Johnson, Charles Barkley, Shaquille O’Neal and Kenny Smith finished announcing the reserves.
“I’m more surprised by De’Aaron Fox because the Sacramento Kings have the third-best record in the West,” Barkley said. “They have the third-best record in the West, so I’m surprised . ... I am really shocked De’Aaron Fox didn’t make this team.”
Reserves were selected by the NBA’s 30 head coaches, who were tasked with voting for two guards, three frontcourt players and two wildcards at any position. Their votes were due at 3 p.m. ET Monday.
Starters were announced last week. Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James and Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo were named captains as the top vote-getters in fan and media voting.
James and Antetokounmpo will choose teams when, for the first time, an NBA AllStar draft is held during a pregame ceremony.
Sabonis is Sacramento’s first All-Star since DeMarcus Cousins in 2017. The Kings haven’t sent two players to the All-Star Game since Brad Miller and Peja Stojakovic were selected in 2004.
The Kings have a total of 77 All-Star selections dating back to 1951, when Bob Davies of the Rochester Royals represented the franchise in the inaugural All-Star Game at Boston Garden.
Only six players — with a combined 18 All-Star appearances — have previously represented the Kings since the start of the Sacramento era in 1985. Mitch Richmond was the first with six All-Star selections followed by Chris Webber (4), Vlade Divac (1), Stojakovic (3), Miller (1) and Cousins (3).
Now, Sabonis joins that illustrious list.
The 26-year-old center is averaging 18.8 points, 12.4 rebounds and 7.1 assists in his seventh NBA season since coming out of Gonzaga as the 11th overall pick in the 2016 NBA draft.