Oshae Brissett, James Johnson's contracts now guaranteed — and why Johnson is beloved in this locker room
For years, the Pacers were in need of a veteran to hold the locker room accountable. James Johnson has filled that need and will finish out the season in Indy.
The Pacers wrapped up a rare practice Saturday at 12:45 p.m. and right before that, loud cheers could be heard from outside the practice courts at the St. Vincent Center.
As the team gathered together, head coach Rick Carlisle said a couple guys gave a shout-out to veteran James Johnson, who was new to the roster this season and would be finishing out the non-guaranteed contract he signed on September 16.
NBA teams had until 5:00 p.m. ET on January 7 to waive players on non-guaranteed deals and not owe them for the remainder of their contract.
For the Pacers, Johnson and Oshae Brissett aren’t going anywhere so their contracts become fully guaranteed, as expected.
Brissett, who is averaging 6 points and 3 rebounds per game, is in the rotation and playing about 16 minutes per game. He’s earning $1.8 million for the final year of his deal and will be an unrestricted free agent in July.
Johnson, 35, was brought in to be the ultimate team guy, to be a veteran leader to help vocally in the locker room and on the court, and be able to play when called upon.
“He’s established a high level of value here,” Carlisle said of Johnson. “He’s a tireless worker, he’s always ready to play, he’s filled a mentoring-type-veteran role that’s very difficult to fill because that guys got to be a guy that can still play, but that is willing to always be ready.
“Our players really respect him, really love him.”
Carlisle deserves credit for the suggestion. Then, the front office looked into him and followed through in signing him. Johnson had played for Carlisle in Dallas briefly during the 2020-21 season before he was included in a midseason trade.