NBA suspends Kings' Domantas Sabonis for making contact with ref

The Sacramento Kings were down 14 points to the New York Knicks late on Monday. They managed to lose more than just the game.

Kings big man Domantas Sabonis, acquired in a deal at the trade deadline, was suspended for one game by the NBA after making contact with an official while arguing a foul call, the league announced Wednesday.

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The play occurred with 4:35 left in the fourth quarter and the Kings down 112-98. Knicks guard Immanuel Quickley drove past Sabonis and missed a layup, but an official hit Sabonis with a blocking foul for some admittedly light contact. Sabonis was incensed and lightly bumped the official while berating him.

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Sabonis received two technical fouls for his reaction, leading to an automatic ejection.

Here's how the NBA described Sabonis' behavior while announcing his suspension:

Sacramento Kings center Domantas Sabonis has been suspended one game without pay for aggressively confronting and making contact with a game official, it was announced today by Byron Spruell, President, League Operations.

The incident began with Sabonis receiving a technical foul for an unsportsmanlike reaction to a called foul. Sabonis then reacted demonstratively again in the vicinity of the game official, and approached and bumped the official in a hostile manner, resulting in a second technical foul and an ejection.


The Kings took the rare step of publicly disagreeing with the NBA's discipline, calling their player a "consummate professional."

Sabonis will serve his suspension during Wednesday's game against the Denver Nuggets.

Kings have struggled since Domantas Sabonis trade

The suspension comes with the Kings still struggling to make the leap forward they envisioned when they traded for Sabonis. In order to land the big man, the Kings gave up promising young star Tyrese Haliburton and sharpshooter Buddy Hield, but clearly hoped Sabonis' elite rebounding and passing for a big man would put them in playoff contention.


That has not happened. Before trading for Sabonis, the Kings were 20-36, a .357 winning percentage, and third-to-last in the Western Conference. Since trading for him, they are 4-7, a .367 winning percentage, and remain third-to-last in the West. The Portland Trail Blazers, a team that slashed to the bone at the deadline to become cheaper, remain 2.5 games ahead of the Kings.

That all isn't on Sabonis, who has been roughly as advertised with 17.4 points, 12.8 rebounds and 6.8 assists per game in a Kings uniform, but it's not what some in Sacramento envisioned when the trade went through.

Mar 7, 2022; Sacramento, California, USA; Sacramento Kings center Domantas Sabonis (10) reacts after being called for a foul against the New York Knicks during the fourth quarter at Golden 1 Center. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
Domantas Sabonis was heated at the end of Knicks-Kings. (Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports)