Pacers Hire Nate Bjorkgren As Head Coach

12:42pm: The Pacers have made it official, announcing the hire of Bjorkgren in a press release.

“We are very pleased and excited to have Nate as our new coach,” Pacers president of basketball operations Kevin Pritchard said in a statement. “This was an extensive and thorough search, and when we reached the conclusion, we felt strongly Nate is the right coach for us at the right time. He comes from a winning background, has experienced championship success, is innovative and his communication skills along with his positivity are tremendous. We all look forward to a long, successful partnership in helping the Pacers move forward.”

11:15am: The Pacers are hiring Raptors assistant Nate Bjorkgren as their new head coach, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link).

Bjorkgren got his start as a professional coach in the G League, where he served as an assistant on the Iowa Energy’s staff from 2007-11 under Nick Nurse. Bjorkgren subsequently held multiple head coaching jobs in the NBAGL before being hired by the Suns in 2015 as an assistant. In 2018, he rejoined Nurse as an assistant on Toronto’s staff.

Although Bjorkgren has won G League and NBA championships as an assistant and has been a head coach at the NBAGL level, this will be his first stint as the head coach of an NBA franchise. He’ll replace Nate McMillan, who was let go by the Pacers following the team’s fourth consecutive first-round exit this summer.

Following McMillan’s departure, Pacers management talked about wanting to hire a head coach who takes a “modern approach” to the game and has the ability to communicate with younger players.

According to J. Michael of The Indianapolis Star (Twitter link), Indiana took notice – particularly this summer in the bubble – of the way Nurse and his staff run the Raptors, including their ability to connect with players and give them more one-on-one attention. That’s something the team wanted in its new coach.

During the interview process, Bjorkgren sold the Pacers on his history of “innovation, adaptability and winning,” sources tell ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Before choosing Bjorkgren, Indiana put together a lengthy list of candidates for the head coaching vacancy, having reportedly held at least informal discussions with more than 20 contenders.

Chris Finch, Darvin Ham, Dan Craig, Chris Quinn, Mike D’Antoni, Dave Joerger, and Chauncey Billups were among the candidates said to have impressed the Pacers at some point during the process. Joerger has since agreed to join Doc Rivers‘ staff in Philadelphia, while Billups now appears set to join Tyronn Lue‘s staff with the Clippers.

As our head coaching search tracker shows, only three teams – the Rockets, Pelicans, and Thunder – are still seeking new head coaches now that the Pacers have found their man.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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15 thoughts on “Pacers Hire Nate Bjorkgren As Head Coach

  1. JamesT

    Looks like D’Antoni is out of the hunt this year. I thought he would have been a bad fit for Indy regardless.

    • TJECK109

      At his age he’s a bad hire for anyone doing a full rebuild on rebuild on the fly.

  2. jump shot

    This can’t be right… Finch was the “favorite” and “front runner” for the job!

  3. ajh738

    Next step should be Sign & Trade involving Sabonis for Montrezl Harrell. Turner, Oladipo, and Harrell is a better trio to challenge in the East.

    • Sillivan

      Sabonis salary 17m
      Harrell market salary 22m – overpay

      Pacers current team salary 127m

      Let free agents walk?

    • b ballexpert

      I don’t think they would be sure to trade Oladip because he just came of of an injury. If he was going to get traded it would not be in the offseason but more likely at the trade deadline.

    • Lionel Muggeridge

      Harrell’s weaknesses were shown in the playoffs. Poor rebounding, D, and shooting range. Some stupid team will overpay for him

  4. PutoBelga12

    Since I believe neither the Pelicans or Thunder are interested in him either, it looks like D’Antoni will have to settle with an assistant coach position if he wants to work next season.

    • JamesT

      I heard the rumor re: Brooklyn w/ Nash. I’d be shocked. D’Antoni did an exceptional thing in Houston and in Phoenix, but I also remember the Lakers and Knicks. I don’t know, but I get the impression, the man is looking to get paid. He could become the richest assistant ever but still that’s not going to be 6-8 million, rather at absolute most it’s a 1/3.

  5. hoosierhysteria

    It looks like Mark Jackson might not get another opportunity. That is wrong

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