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Pacers to exercise Oshae Brissett’s team option

Indiana will take their chances in allowing Brissett to become an unrestricted free agent next year

NBA: Indiana Pacers at Brooklyn Nets Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

With the start of free agency less than 36 hours away, the Pacers have made their first non-draft decision of the offseason, as they are picking up Oshae Brissett’s $1.8 million team option for the upcoming season, reports James Boyd of the Indy Star.

Brissett, who toggled between both forward spots in the starting lineup after the trade deadline, will now be on track for unrestricted free agency next year, whereas turning down the option would’ve made him a restricted free agent this offseason — akin to what played out with Edmond Sumner in 2019, when both sides agreed to decline the option in order to come to terms on a new multi-year contract.

From a basketball standpoint, Brissett is an opportunistic scorer, who fills gaps on defense and finds cracks on offense, but he can struggle to hold his own on the perimeter and gives up strength against bigs down low, which can create limitations in certain defensive groupings when he’s tasked beyond sliding from sideline-to-sideline.

Meanwhile, his finishing also remains in need of improvement, as he converted just 38 percent of his drives, jumping too far on one-foot take-offs and too often requiring mid-air adjustments. Still, he keeps possessions alive with his tenacity and his ability to cut and run the floor without spoiling spacing fits like a glove with Tyrese Haliburton’s playmaking; not only for the purpose of direct passes to Brissett as an off-ball receiver, but also in terms of opening space at the nail with intuitive flares and pins, as well as back-side cut assists.

Defensively, although there are limits to his versatility against speedy guards, due to the way in which he can be slow to react on the catch, he occasionally demonstrated the flexibility to be cross-matched against opposing stretch-fives, allowing the team to switch ball-screens while shielding whichever center was on the floor from defending in space.

Plus, his ability to space to three from the four spot makes him the most suitable candidate among players on the current roster to ensure that Myles Turner actually gets defended by fives next season in the apex of his mission to play solo five.

For all of those reasons, although many of Brissett’s micro-contributions don’t always show up in the box-score, the decision to keep him at a low cap number for another year without first right of refusal could come back to bite, unless the reason for doing so involves some sort of play for an immediate, long-term upgrade in free agency.

According to ESPN’s Bobby Marks, Brissett will be extension eligible starting on March 15, providing the Pacers with another avenue to retain him before he has the chance to potentially speak with other teams.