Tyrese Haliburton will probably do well in Indiana. It is sometimes hard to say who will get along with Rick Carlisle, who as the entrenched skipper of the Dallas Mavericks, was allowed to be capricious in his judgments of players. You can't imagine he'll get less persnickety or more accommodating at age 62, as the Pacers' newly appointed god-king. He should like Haliburton, because any coach can appreciate and put to use a long, smart guard who passes well and seems to be developing quite an exciting off-the-dribble game. But Carlisle didn't like Domas Sabonis, a smart, playmaking big man who could make jumpers and score around the basket. So go figure. For the next couple years, the teams Haliburton features for will likely be stripped down and building toward success more than realizing it. This will make Carlisle even grumpier than usual. Let me modify my prediction: in Indiana, Haliburton will flourish or be driven insane.

At least he has hope. Poor Domas had the best season of his career, a second consecutive breakout year in which he was one of the few bright spots on a squad immiserated by a coach who annoyed and beat down everybody he worked with. Hey, if Domas could get buckets efficiently and function as the offensive hub on a dysfunctional Pacers team, perhaps Carlisle would bring some discipline and fresh ideas and we'd get to see Peak Sabonis in games that truly mattered. That unfortunately did not come to pass. You can't claim Carlisle chose Myles Turner over Sabonis in that long-stewing situation where it was clear one of them needed to be dealt away, but that's only because Carlisle doesn't seem to love Turner so much as prefer him. For now. You know, if you squint, Rick doesn't look too dissimilar to Nate Bjorkgren. That's an observation, not a comparison.

I wrote about this a few weeks ago: De'Aaron Fox was supposed to be the one leaving Sacramento. This wasn't based on solid reporting, but I wasn't making it up by myself either. The popular consensus was that Fox is in need of a change of scenery. He overlaps with Haliburton. He's older and more expensive and mired in a long stretch of sub-par play. (Sounds like a Knick to me.) When a team is foundering, as the Kings are, that's always the guy who gets shipped out. The front office keeps the Haliburton type and sells the fanbase on building around the promising player on a rookie contract. Well, the Kings don't do anything normal, while also managing to rarely get anything right, even through counterintuitive methods. So of course it's now Fox and Domas against the West. They'll run some awesome dribble handoff actions, but you can't subsist on that alone.

Back to Sabonis. He's only 25 years old, but has already absorbed a weary vet's amount of disappointment and frustration. He enters the league in 2016 for the Thunder and mostly stands around boyishly while Russell Westbrook barrels to the basket and bricks threes en route to his and-the-Oscar-goes-to-Argo moment. Then Domas is traded to Indiana, where the teams are alright—though crucially, far from great—but he's unestablished, either splitting minutes with Myles Turner at the five or uneasily sharing a front court with him. Fighting his own damn teammate for space and playing time depresses his value, so when he goes to sign an extension in the fall of 2019, he's not getting top dollar, which he proves he should be making as the ink is drying on the contract, winning the battle with Turner and establishing himself as one of the best players on the team—maybe the best. Then he has an even better season in 2020-21, under the soul-bleaching glare of the aforementioned Nate Bjorkgren. And finally he's cast off to Sacramento, because Carlisle isn't impressed.

By the way, the Kings start Richaun Holmes at center. He's having a pretty good year. Domas is absolutely going to play some power forward for that team.

Player movement being what it is these days, there aren't many long-suffering stars in the NBA. Bradley Beal is the best example we currently have. (No, Dame Lillard doesn't count.) The other members of this afflicted class are roughly Sabonis's age. Brandon Ingram comes to mind, and he's only 24. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is getting there, not even four full seasons into his career. If you bristle at categorizing any of the latter three as stars, that's not unreasonable. It's difficult to figure out how good they truly are, when they don't get to apply their talent toward winning. They put up stats like a gifted novelist at a copywriting gig, it seems more to pass the time than anything else. 

It must be demoralizing, to adapt to the NBA, then excel, and to be denied the opportunity to reach the next stage of your development because you're tied down wherever you are—restricted free agency is a burden—for reasons beyond your control. Domas Sabonis's contract doesn't expire until 2024. Actually, it might be worth mentioning while we're at it, that Tyrese Haliburton is in year two of what's very likely to be a seven- or eight-year commitment to the Pacers or whomever the Pacers eventually trade him to. When you are young and skilled in the NBA, you have the whole world in front of you. The whole world viewed through the prism of whatever town you're stuck in.