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INDIANAPOLIS (AP)The Indiana Pacers took another major step in their rebuilding project by exercising the options on point guard Tyrese Haliburton and three other players on Wednesday.

By picking up the fourth year on Haliburton’s rookie contract, as expected, it assures the Pacers of keeping their cornerstone piece through at least the end of next season. Halibutron averaged 17.5 points and 9.6 assists in 26 games with Indiana last season after being acquired in a February trade with Sacramento.

”From when I got here, the front office, I think, has shown that this is a, I guess, a rebuild if that’s what you want to call it,” Haliburton said at media day. ”It’s really the first time this has ever really happened in this organization, so I think it’s not a surprise they’re trying to get back to where they were before and want to compete again.”

Haliburton is expected to play a key role in that pursuit – and now he knows some of the players who will be working with him.

The Pacers announced they have also exercised third-year options on guard Chris Duarte and forward Isaiah Jackson. Both were 2021 first-round draft picks, with Duarte earning second-team all-rookie honors after averaging 13.1 points, 4.1 rebounds and 1.0 steal.

Indiana also picked up the fourth-year option of wing Aaron Nesmith, the No. 14 overall pick in the 2020 draft. Nesmith was acquired in a summer trade from the Boston Celtics. He averaged 3.8 points and 1.7 rebounds last season on the Eastern Conference champions.

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