Indiana Pacers fires Nate Bjorkgren after season as head coach

the Indiana Pacers to have separate ways with head coach Nate Bjorkgren after just one season, the team announced on Wednesday. This is a decision that has been brewing over the past two months, as reports surfaced regarding his inability to establish good relationships with players or staff members within the organization.

Indiana would be looking for a more experienced coach lead a team that should be in contention for the playoffs with a roster made up of several talented players, including All-Star Domantas sabonis.

Although the Pacers have started the season well, going 6-2 in their first eight games, the team have struggled to build on that success this season. Injury certainly played a role, as TJ Warren underwent end-of-season surgery just four games after the start of the schedule to repair a stress fracture in his left foot. Big man Myles Turner also missed 22 of Indiana’s last 23 regular season games and both games with a partial tear to his plantar plate in his toe. Several other players, like Malcolm brogdon and Sabonis also missed bits of games here and there, which also played a role.

But that seemed like a bigger problem than the simple fact that the players couldn’t stay on the pitch. At team president Kevin Pritchard’s end-of-season press conference last month, he portrayed a coach who lacked interpersonal skills and said “It needs to be improved.” Obviously, however, Indiana didn’t want to wait and find out if he could restore confidence in the locker room.

Aside from the relationships he couldn’t have with players, coaches and staff, the Pacers just weren’t very good this season. A year after finishing fourth in the Eastern Conference under then-coach Nate McMillan, Bjorkgren posted a 34-38 record, good for ninth place in the Eastern Conference. While Indiana managed to win a play-in match against the Charlotte hornets, this team – with much of the same roster as last year – certainly should have finished higher in the standings than they did.

Under McMillan, the Pacers were seventh in the league in defense like last season, but under Bjorkgren they fell to 14th in the league. The offense did improving with Bjorkgren at the helm (from 19th to 14th in the championship), but it hasn’t been a lot of wins. To make matters worse, McMillan, who Indiana fired after bouncing in the first round of the playoffs in the bubble, led a hawks team to fifth in the East, after a Knicks team in the first round of the playoffs and fend off against the championship contenders Philadelphia 76ers.

As the Pacers turn to search for a new coach to replace former Bjorkgren Portland Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts is said to have an interest in the team, by Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports. Stotts, who was just released from the Blazers after an outing in the first round of the playoffs, attended high school in Indiana and was inducted into the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame in 2020. Stotts would provide The type of coaching experience The Pacers would be looking for someone who made the playoffs eight of the nine years he was in charge at Portland. Stotts would also be the complete opposite of Bjorkgren, as someone with a solid track record of being able to nurture strong relationships with his players and command a dressing room.

Whoever the Pacers next coach is, they will inherit an already built roster to qualify for the playoffs, the challenge will be to do a deep run in the playoffs, which neither Bjorkgren nor McMillan were able to do.


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