Kings’ Domantas Sabonis excited for All-Star selection; disappointed in De’Aaron Fox snub

Paul Kitagaki Jr./

The Kings are celebrating Domantas Sabonis’ third All-Star selection, but they feel the same way as their fans after De’Aaron Fox was passed over when reserves were announced Thursday.

“It sucks,” Sabonis said. “I don’t know how much I want to say, but there definitely are players that (Fox) deserved it way more than. And we’re not here today without him.”

Said Malik Monk, one of Fox’s closest friends and former Kentucky teammate: “Yeah, that’s crazy man. ... S--- (is) unbelievable, especially with what he’s been doing for us, coming through in the clutch, winning us these games. Him and Domas both, they’re supposed to be in that game together, but it is what it is.”

Kings head coach Mike Brown for months has campaigned for Fox and Sabonis to be named All-Stars, highlighting the team’s record. The Kings entered Friday’s road game against the Indiana Pacers as the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference at 29-21.

“Excited about Domas making it,” Brown said before the game. “Quite frankly, for great players out there, it’s not an easy thing to accomplish. Disappointing, though, that Fox didn’t make it from the standpoint of where we sit record wise, and then also what he’s doing to help us win games with where he is in terms of clutch points, which is the most important time during any ball game.”

Fox, of course, has scored at least 10 points in 16 fourth quarters this season, ranking fifth in the NBA. His 4.8 points per game in clutch situations is fourth in the league, while his 119 total points in the clutch ranks first. Fox was not with the team due to personal reasons Friday and was not available to comment. Davion Mitchell started in place of Fox against the Pacers.

Sabonis leads the NBA with 39 double-doubles. His 23-game double-double streak from Dec. 4 to Jan. 20 was the longest in the NBA this season. He’s also one of three players to average 15 points, 10 rebounds and five assists, joining former MVPs Giannis Antetokounmpo and Nikola Jokic.

Sabonis spoke on Friday before his first road game against the Pacers since getting traded from Indiana last February. His first two All-Star nods came with the Pacers in 2020 and 2021. He was asked what it meant to be an All-Star with a different team in a different conference.

“I think it’s really cool,” he said. “To know that you’re valued in different areas, not just one team or coach. But at the same time, I couldn’t do it without my teammates, especially how my games is. They give me the ball and I give them the ball. They gotta make the shots, I gotta make the shots, so it’s a team thing.”

There’s still a chance for Fox to go to the All-Star Game in Salt Lake City as an injury replacement. Pelicans star Zion Williamson, who was named a starter, is dealing with a hamstring injury and is uncertain to play. All-Star weekend begins Feb. 17 and ends with the game Feb. 19.

Starters for the Western conference: LeBron James, Jokic, Williamson, Stephen Curry and Luka Doncic. The reserves: Paul George, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Jaren Jackson Jr., Damian Lillard, Lauri Markkanen, Ja Morant and Sabonis.