Pacers Notes: Bjorkgren, Sabonis, Turner, Oladipo

Speaking to reporters during his introductory press conference on Wednesday, new Pacers head coach Nate Bjorkgren said he thinks Indiana will be a “fun team to watch” next season, promising a more dynamic offense and a willingness to be adaptable, as Michael Marot of The Associated Press writes.

“You’re going to see a lot of movement on both sides of the ball, different guys handling the ball, pushing it up the floor,” Bjorkgren said. “We want to utilize the three-point line. My approach to defense is you change and change quite frequently, between quarters, after timeouts, during an 8-0 run, I think that’s the disruptive part.”

Bjorkgren has never been a head coach at the NBA level, but he did serve as the head coach for three separate G League clubs between 2011-15. On Wednesday, he said that he feels as if that experience helped prepare him to be flexible and make adjustments as an NBA coach.

“You have to adapt very early and quite often,” Bjorkgren said, per Marot. “You could be at a shootaround and two guys get called up and another is going overseas so you have to coach on the fly. You have to know the next guy will be there and that’s the part of the coaching, keeping everybody ready at all times.”

Here’s more on the Pacers and their new head coach:

  • President of basketball operations Kevin Pritchard and the Pacers conducted formal interviews via Zoom with approximately a dozen candidates and then brought in six finalists for in-person interviews, writes Wheat Hotchkiss of By the end of the lengthy process, Pritchard was certain that Bjorkgren was the man for the job. “We felt like this was a no-brainer,” Pritchard said. “When we came to a decision, there were high-fives in our office and we knew that this was the right guy.”
  • Bjorkgren said on Wednesday that he’s “very confident” that Domantas Sabonis and Myles Turner can continue to coexist in the Pacers’ lineup, likening the duo to Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka on his old team in Toronto. “When you talk about those two bigs, they’re not just any two bigs,” Bjorkgren said of Indiana’s duo, per Hotchkiss. “They are very dynamic and they complement each other very well.”
  • Asked during Wednesday’s presser about Victor Oladipo, neither Pritchard nor Bjorkgren gave any indication that they expect the All-Star guard to be traded this offseason. “He feels good about the team. He’s talked to me about how he thinks this team can be very good,” Pritchard said, according to Marot. “We hear a lot of things, but until it comes to me, I don’t really worry about that.”
  • Bjorkgren added that Oladipo texted him “immediately” after news of his hiring broke. “We had a great talk,” Bjorkgren said. “We talked about what I thought he could do, what I thought he could bring to this team, how he could make this team better, and how he could make himself better… I like his energy. I feel like our energy fed off each other a little bit there during the phone call.”
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