A late lottery pick of the Sacramento Kings in 2020, the mantle wasn’t quite up for taking with De’Aaron Fox firmly entrenched as the star around which all things revolved. However, Haliburton quickly established himself as someone who furthered the Kings’ seemingly never-ending rebuild. Someone who could help get them back to the postseason for the first time in more than a decade.
Then they traded him.
In the months since last season’s blockbuster deal sent Haliburton to Indiana for All-Star center Domantas Sabonis, the third-year guard hasn’t been shy about discussing the surprise of being traded by a team he was so committed to. Now, distanced from the fog of that shock, he sees the opportunity that lies ahead of him. With the Indiana Pacers, Haliburton has a chance to lead his own team.
The third-year guard sat down with For The Win to talk about his expanded role on the court and also a new one off of it as an investor and brand ambassador for Cheribundi’s natural performance wellness products.
(This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.)
TH: “Yeah, no question. When I first got there, it was easy. I mean, outside of the fact that I was staying in a hotel for a little bit, it was not hard at all. Truthfully, just for me, that Indiana welcomed me with open arms, that I was able to come into an organization that showed me love from Day One. And people really value me not only as a basketball player but as a person as well. The people around me, the people who surround me made the transition easier. And, you know, I kind of just went along with it.”They're in a rebuild, similar to your past situation, but have some good young pieces – we just had the draft.
What do you think about the current state of the roster? Is there anything you want to see the team do?
TH: “No, I don’t think there’s anything specific. We’ve got a lot of young talent, a lot of guys that are on their rookie deals and have only been in the league for a couple of years. So you just want to see consistent growth amongst us. Guys really getting in the gym, working hard…because the older you get, it’s almost like it’s maintaining to a point – where the younger you are in the league, the more you need to work on different things, different aspects and need to really add things to your game, and expectations are more clear from the organization for players and things like that. So just really excited to see the growth from guys. I keep up with almost everybody for the most part, talk to them on a consistent basis. So, I’m really excited to see them in Summer League but also see them as the summer goes on.”
The Pacers drafted Ben Mathurin. Is there any background to your relationship? Did you guys know each other prior to him joining the team?
TH: “No, no. He actually came for a [pre-draft] workout. We struck up a conversation, grew a relationship from there. So we stayed in contact, and as the draft approached and got closer and closer, I thought that was the right pick for us. Not only that it was the right pick for us, but that it was super realistic that that’s what had a good chance of happening. So, I was with him the night before the draft, we had a small conversation and he spoke to me about how he wanted to come to Indy. I was really excited to hear that. I was really excited that we were able to get him to join us.”
How do you think your games will mesh with him playing on the wing next to you?
TH: “Yeah, I think they go along hand in hand. I think he’s a really physical guy that can really do so many different things on the floor. And he’s just got a lot of room to grow as a player and he’s already so good as it is. So I’m just really looking forward to having a relationship with him and being able to grow together as two young up and coming guys.”
TH: “Yeah, so it’s interesting. To start the second year when I was with Sacramento, we had a back-to-back early in the year and they gave me Cheribundi and said that it was tart cherry juice, and it’s supposed to help recovery. And I really started to feel better after I started drinking more. I don’t really drink a lot of other drinks besides water, in terms of sports drinks. So when I was able to start drinking Cheribundi, I kind of became obsessed with it pretty fast. It doesn’t have added sugars and synthetics. It’s really just cherry juice, and the product that helps me in so many different ways. I’m somebody who used to feel like I was sick all the time. I know it’s kind of not safe to say, with what’s been going on the last two years. But I felt like I was down sometimes. And just the way that my life was and the sport I play, just on the move all the time. So, it really helped me recover faster. I just felt better overall.”
TH: “Truthfully, I got into Cheribundi this last season, and this is the healthiest I’ve ever been. I’m not kidding. Truthfully, I only missed two games all year with body things. I had COVID for two games as well, and I got traded for one game. But it’s the best my body has felt in so long. And I think Cheribundi has a big responsibility to do with that. I drink one every morning to start my day. I drink one before I go to bed. And I usually drink one in the middle of the day. So it’s like two to three a day. That’s just something that not only keeps me hydrated, but I just feel like it really helps my body stay right and healthy. It allows me to be at the top of my game.”