Insider: Oshae Brissett talks Pacers contract, Tyrese Haliburton, Jalen Smith and rapping?
LAS VEGAS — Pacers guard Gabe York caught the ball on the left wing, took two dribbles and raised up for a deep step-back 3 in the closing seconds of the third quarter during Sunday's Summer League game against the Kings.
The shot went in all net, giving Indiana a one-point lead heading into the final frame.
As York jogged down the sideline past a few celebrities, including rapper 50 Cent, the 6-3 guard dapped up his teammates Tyrese Haliburton and Oshae Brissett, who stood up from their courtside seats after York wowed the crowd at Cox Pavilion.
The Pacers went on to lose the back-and-forth contest, 103-96, but for Indiana's second straight Summer League game, Brissett and Haliburton were in attendance. Both players are a part of the team's young core but took different paths to get there, and it's reflected in their contracts.
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Haliburton was a 2020 lottery pick and after being acquired in a trade with the Kings last season for two-time All-Star Domantas Sabonis, Haliburton becomes eligible for the rookie max contract extension next summer.
Brissett went undrafted in 2019 and worked his way into the NBA, playing first for the Raptors and now the Pacers. He signed a two-year deal with Indiana last year with a team option for the second season. After outplaying his contract in 2021-22, the Pacers could've declined their team option, made Brissett a restricted free agent this summer and negotiated a long-term deal with the 24-year-old swingman. However, since Indiana picked up its team option, Brissett will play for $1.8 million — below his market value — and become an unrestricted free agent next summer.
I spoke to Brissett at Summer League about his contract, bond with Haliburton, Jalen Smith returnining, being the elder Canadian, budding rap career (just keep reading) and more:
Question: The Pacers picked up their team option for you, so how do you feel about going into the final year of your contract?
Answer: I'm excited, really, really excited. The system that we have and the guys that we have are gonna make me look good. Playing with Tyrese in itself is a bonus. I feed off of him. We all feed off of him, so I'm really excited. We have a lot of young guys that really want to win and are really gonna learn how to win. We're all dialed in.
Q: Does a part of you wish the Pacers would've declined their team option and negotiated a long-term deal with you this summer?
A: Man, I'm blessed. I always give thanks and I'm always appreciative of our front office. They believed in me when no one else did, so whatever they had on the table I was really ready (to accept) and come back and give it my all for this year. I want to be here long term, so I know next year, whatever happens, Indiana's always gonna be my No. 1 option to be back. The fans and the team have welcomed me with open arms and I'll never forget that.
Q: What things have you worked on this summer? And what role do you envision yourself having heading into your fourth season?
A: I want our team to really rely on me on defense. I want to be our main on-ball defender. That's something I've really been working on, watching film, learning the game more and getting a lot stronger. And then really every aspect of my game. I know that with the way that we play, I'm never gonna be pigeonholed into doing one thing. Coach (Rick Carlisle) will want me to be all over the place and I'm ready for that. So I'm really working on everything, but I've really been focusing on defense.
Q: I've noticed through social media that you, Tyrese and Duane Washington Jr. have been training and hanging out together this summer. How has your bond with them grown since last season ended?
A: Like I said, we have a lot of guys who really want to win and that starts off the court. You mentioned Duane, he's one of the main locker room guys that we have. He's really been the one that's been tying us together, keeping us together in the group chat and just being that great locker room guy that every team needs. So that helps with our chemistry on the court, and I know going into training camp we're gonna be better because of it moving forward.
Q: The Malcolm Brogdon trade was announced Saturday, so now that he's off to Boston, that opens the door even more for Tyrese in Indiana. How do you think he'll handle his increased role as a franchise cornerstone?
A: He's ready. This is what he would've been over there in Sac, and I'm just glad that we got him here and I know everyone else is glad about it. So I know he's ready. I know he's working his butt off to get going and to lead us next year.
Q: What did you say to Jalen Smith to make him want to come back and be a part of this youth movement?
A: I didn't say anything at all. I knew that he wanted to be here. He fits what we need, and I know that we're gonna use him, and I know he's gonna really benefit by being here with us and we're gonna benefit from being here with him. I knew that he wanted to come back, and I'm glad we got him.
Q: What's been your impression of fellow Canadian and No. 6 pick Bennedict Mathurin so far?
A: Man, he's hoopin', he's hoopin'. I know that he's just gonna keep on getting better and just keep building and keep growing. I'm just excited to see what he can be.
Q: With you, Bennedict and another rookie draft pick, Andrew Nembhard, all being from up North, is this officially the Canadian Pacers? And are you the ambassador?
A: As long as they know I'm still the top Canadian. I was the first one here and I'm the oldest, so with that being said I'mma show them the way and lead them. But yes, we're the Canadian Pacers for sure.
Q: I just subscribed to your YouTube channel, BrissyTV, and in the latest episode you mentioned making a rap song when the COVID-19 pandemic started and we were all stuck inside. Tyrese asked you to drop the track, but you refused, so are we ever going to here this song?
A: No! Never! (Brissett says laughing) It's in the archives. That has never been released. I didn't want anyone to even know about it, so I'm kind of mad they put that in the vlog. But it'll never be released, never!
Follow IndyStar Pacers beat writer James Boyd on Twitter: @RomeovilleKid. Reach him via email: email@example.com.