12:15pm: The Pacers have officially announced in a press release that Bjorkgren won’t be retained for the 2021/22 season.
“The 2020/21 season was not what any of us hoped or anticipated it would be, and our results on the court certainly did not meet the standards for what our organization and our fans have come to expect,” Pacers president of basketball operations Kevin Pritchard said in a statement.
“We have determined this is the right time to move in a different direction, and on behalf of the Simon Family and the entire Pacers organization, I want to express my gratitude to Nate for his efforts leading our team. While we do not have a definite timetable for our search, we will move quickly to identify candidates who will make our team and our organization stronger.”
10:56am: The Pacers have decided to part ways with head coach Nate Bjorkgren after his first year on the job, sources tell Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link).
According to Wojnarowski (Twitter link), Bjorkgren was informed today of the Pacers’ decision to let him go after he met with management on Tuesday. The team intends to seek out a more experienced, established head coach to replace Bjorkgren, who lost the locker room and “much of the organization” this season, Wojnarowski adds.
The Pacers moved on from Nate McMillan a year ago after a fourth consecutive first-round playoff exit in the hopes of hiring a new coach who would modernize the team’s offense and increase its ceiling. Although Bjorkgren did help improve Indiana’s offense, the defense took a major step backward and the former Raptors assistant reportedly had major communication issues with players and coaches alike.
Multiple reports during the final weeks of the regular season indicated that Bjorkgren was on the hot seat, and failing to secure a playoff spot in the play-in tournament presumably didn’t help his chances of sticking around.
Given how many injuries the Pacers dealt with during the 2020/21 campaign, it’s unclear how much more another coach could’ve gotten out of the roster. And since Bjorkgren had one more guaranteed year on his contract, there was a belief that the small-market Pacers may prefer to give him another chance rather than having to commit financially to a second head coaching contract. However, it sounds like the issues with Bjorkgren were too widespread to make continuing the relationship a viable choice.
Indiana becomes the fourth team to enter the market for a new head coach this spring, joining Boston, Portland, and Orlando. Because they conducted an extensive search for a coach in 2020 before landing on Bjorkgren, the Pacers may already have a leg up in this year’s search, having gotten familiar with several candidates who could be on their radar again. However, new candidates will be considered as well.
[RELATED: 2021 NBA Head Coaching Search Tracker]
One of those new candidates, who wasn’t available a year ago, is former Blazers coach Terry Stotts. Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports reports (via Twitter) that the Pacers are expected to take a look at Stotts, while Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report says (via Twitter) league sources have increasingly identified Stotts as a leading candidate for the job in Indiana. Josh Robbins of The Athletic previously reported that league sources expect the Pacers to interview Steve Clifford following his exit from Orlando.
As for Bjorkgren’s future, Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca tweets that he wouldn’t be surprised if Nick Nurse‘s former assistant – and good friend – ends up returning to Toronto. The Raptors lost a top assistant midway through the 2020/21 season when Chris Finch was hired as Minnesota’s head coach, and Nurse strongly defended Bjorkgren amidst last month’s negative reports.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
22 thoughts on “Pacers Fire Head Coach Nate Bjorkgren”
I think you should save this article and just change the name and use it this time next year for Portland’s new coach.
Ha. Well done.
Pacers should be better than 4th best Knicks next year assuming that Knicks use cap room to sign Kelly Oubre
Knicks have changed their name into 4th best Knicks
I hate how all NBA teams only ever want to pick from the same rotation of unemployed senior citizens as coaches.
Are you going to make a comment like this every article about coaches? We get it you want every coach to get one chance only at being a head coach for their entire careers. It’s a strange take but no need to be a broken record.
I posted it twice, so you ask this?
No, I don’t want coaches to only get one chance, thats strange you picked that out of what I wrote – you appear to want to give bad coaches 10 chances to win though, that’s a way more strange/stupid take than mine.
You said it twice in articles that were posted like 2 hours apart. It seems strange to say basically the same thing twice. But to your other point I don’t think if you post the same thing twice in a few hours on different articles it would be that strange for someone to assume that you don’t think coaches should get more chances. It’s a much safer bet than me commenting once that you are a broken record and you instantly jump to the ridiculous conclusion that I think coaches should get to coach for 10 teams before they get no more shots. What could you possibly have taken from anything I said to make that leap? I get it you were a little embarrassed to be called out, but your failed attempt at humor or trying to look like a smart guy there should be far more embarrassing for you.
Why doesn’t the GM deserve the same fate? He is the one who fired McMillan last year? Now Nate has made the second round of the playoffs and replacing looks like a colossal mistake. This is why GM’s tend to overreact sometimes. Have to look how the team plays under that specific head coach and not the W/L record. Those Pacers players hated playing for him. The GM should be gone too and should not be allowed to make his next head coaching decision.
PS – I have Terry Stotts as the next HC for the Indians Pacers due to the familiarity with him and the GM from their time in Portland.
Sorry I had a brain camp and couldn’t come up with the last name for the GM. I didn’t realize the name was stated within the article.
Kevin Pritchard should be gone too.
Pritchard was fired at least a year before Stotts was hired. Did they have some prior connection?
You are so right. I was wrong. I honestly thought he was the one who hired him. My bad.
We’ll they have quality pieces. Turner, Sabonis, Brogdon, Holiday bros, LaVert, Warren and Lamb. The team should have been in the actual playoffs. They have made pretty good savvy moves. This is after losing a top-10 player in PG13 and all star in Oladipo who just didn’t bounce back to what he once was.
If I were Indy, I would start the rebuild right now.
Their players don’t fit together – but they would all have great trade value. New coach probably means they’ll try running it back one more time.
Starting rebuilds is great for execs. They get about 3 years of no winning pressure, as long as they keep the ages young.
Pacers have solid starters to take down 4th best
They need to trade Turner or Sabonis and get a stretch 4 who can shoot. Honestly, that lineup is good, they just need to sell high on Sabonis and get picks and also another scorer from the front line.
Guys I would target: PJ Washington, Davis Bertrans, and possibly Markkanen (RFA).
Trade Warren for S&T Markkanen and you’re probably okay.
You know trading a center has been on the table for years. Why now?
D’Antoni is the obvious choice but why would he leave the easiest job in NBA.
They should not of let Dan Burke walk. He deserved the job and it should be his if he will come back. Our defense this year had Dick Harder rolling in his grave, that wouldn’t of happened with Burke.
Jarron Collins for the Pacers.
Another first timer, but hey….