Following a Thursday loss in the East’s final 2021 play-in game, the Pacers‘ season is over, raising questions about the future of head coach Nate Bjorkgren. Although he was just hired last fall, Bjorkgren is said to be very much on the hot seat after a tumultuous, disappointing season in Indiana. For his part, the first-year coach was evasive on Thursday when asked whether he expects to be back.
“My focus is on the players right now,” Bjorkgren said, per J. Michael of The Indianapolis Star (Twitter link). “I’m not thinking about myself. I’m really not. I just want to do what’s best for these guys.”
It’s decision time for the Pacers, according to Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files, who advises not to be surprised if the club takes a little time to make a call on Bjorkgren’s status, one way or the other.
Bob Kravitz of The Athletic suggests that Bjorkgren probably took a banged-up Pacers team about as far could be realistically expected, but if he’s to return for the 2021/22, there must be changes — “both with Bjorkgren himself and with his coaching staff,” Kravitz writes.
As we wait on the Pacers’ decision, let’s round up a few more notes out of Indiana…
- While it’s possible that Bjorkgren was the problem for the Pacers, Gregg Doyel of The Indianapolis Star isn’t entirely convinced of that, and writes an offseason roster shakeup might not be the worst idea for the organization.
- Most of the Pacers’ key rotation players are under contract for next season, but Doug McDermott is one important contributor who will be an unrestricted free agent this summer. McDermott addressed his situation after Thursday’s game, as J. Michael of The Indianapolis Star relays (via Twitter): “I want to be a Pacer. It’s been a great three years. It’s been a great place to call home. I hope I can continue that.”
- Although Myles Turner‘s toe injury didn’t heal in time for him to rejoin the Pacers before they were eliminated from postseason contention, he’s hoping to be healthy enough to compete for a spot on Team USA’s Olympic roster this summer, he tells Sean Deveney of Forbes.
- As we outlined earlier today, the Pacers are now in line for the 13th pick in the 2021 draft, as long as their position isn’t affected by the lottery results. Nat Newell of The Indianapolis Star, noting that Indiana’s two most recent lottery picks were Turner and Paul George, examines the recent history of the No. 13 pick to get an idea of what sort of player the team could realistically land.