By Alex Kennedy

Indiana Pacers big man Domantas Sabonis could end up being the biggest name that’s dealt prior to Thursday’s trade deadline.

While the Washington Wizards and Sacramento Kings are the two teams that have consistently been linked to the two-time All-Star, HoopsHype’s Michael Scotto wouldn’t be shocked if a random team comes out of nowhere to win the Sabonis sweepstakes.

“For Sabonis, he’s the kind of guy where I could see a dark-horse team kind of coming out of nowhere and going all-in [to acquire him],” Scotto said on The Alex Kennedy Podcast. “I don’t want to throw any teams out there. But I just think it comes down to Indiana trying to squeeze teams [and get more], just like Orlando did with Nikola Vucevic a year ago. I think it’s really the same scenario… I’ve reported that the Pacers want a Nikola-Vucevic type of package for Sabonis.”

Last year, the Orlando Magic shocked everyone when they traded Vucevic to the Chicago Bulls for Wendell Carter Jr., Otto Porter Jr. and two first-round picks. Like Vucevic last year, Sabonis is a two-time All-Star who’s under contract for two more seasons beyond this one (earning $18.5 million).

One team that could make sense as a dark-horse suitor is the New Orleans Pelicans, who have expressed interest in Sabonis. The Pelicans have been one of the most active teams in trade talks over the last few weeks and while they have mostly been linked to guards (including C.J. McCollum and Eric Gordon), they certainly seem to be buyers as the deadline approaches.

If a surprise teams fails to emerge, Scotto believes the Kings have the trade chips to land Sabonis.

“Sacramento has all of the assets to get that done,” Scotto said. “To me, they also have the desperation factor because they’re trying not to miss the playoffs again and set the record [for the longest playoff drought]. And they need a high-caliber big. If they acquire Domantas Sabonis, they haven’t had a guy like that since Chris Webber — an All-Star big at that position who can really make a difference for them.”

It remains to be seen if Sacramento is willing to meet Indiana’s asking price.

The Wizards “would love” to acquire Sabonis and pair him with Bradley Beal, but they “may not have the assets” to get a deal done, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

This season, Sabonis is averaging 18.9 points, 12.1 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 1.0 steal on .580/.324/.740 shooting splits. The Pacers are 19-36, which is the third-worst record in the Eastern Conference. Given the team’s struggles, a “dramatic trade deadline makeover” seems imminent.

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