12:55pm: The Pacers have issued a press release officially confirming Foster’s suspension and the fine for Bitadze.
11:32am: The Pacers are suspending assistant coach Greg Foster for one game and fining center Goga Bitadze for a heated altercation during Wednesday’s home loss to Sacramento, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter).
Foster, who had to be held back by Myles Turner, was believed to be upset by Bitadze’s lack of resistance on a Maurice Harkless dunk, as Matthew VanTryon of The Indianapolis Star details. Following that Harkless dunk, Bitadze responded by hitting a three-pointer and appeared to tell Foster to “sit the f— down,” which led to the altercation on the sidelines (video link via J. Michael of The Indianapolis Star).
The incident was the latest indication that the struggling Pacers are frustrated and feeling a little frayed at the edges. In the wake of multiple reports suggesting his job could be in jeopardy, Pacers head coach Nate Bjorkgren spoke before last night’s game about the importance of communicating with his players and sticking together during a rough stretch, per VanTryon. After the game, Bjorkgren – who said he had talked to both Foster and Bitadze – downplayed the incident but hinted he wasn’t quite ready to close the book on it.
“I’m going to find out exactly what was said and in what way,” Bjorkgren told reporters on Wednesday night. “They’re both trying so hard. They’re both competitive. They both want what’s best for the team, and it didn’t happen that way. It boiled over a little bit.”
According to Wojnarowski, Foster and Bitadze have had a “strong working relationship” this season, and the Pacers expect that to continue going forward.