(NEW YORK) — Sources tell ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski that the Indiana Pacers have fired head coach Nate Bjorkgren after one season. The team finished 9th in the Eastern Conference with a 34-38 record and missed the playoffs for the first time in six seasons after losing to the Washington Wizards 142-115 in the play-in tournament.
Bjorkgren replaced current Atlanta Hawks head coach Nate McMillan after four seasons at the helm, previously serving as an assistant with the Toronto Raptors during their 2018 NBA Championship run. He broke into the NBA coaching ranks in 2015 with the Phoenix Suns after leading their G-League Affiliate team, the Bakersfield Jam, to a 34-16 record.
Sources tell ESPN Bjorkgren was told by the team on Wednesday he would not be returning for a second season after meeting with management on Tuesday.
Pacers have a roster that should be a solid Eastern Conference playoff team with Sabonis, Brogdon, LeVert, Turner and Warren — and couldn’t move forward with a young coach who struggled managing locker room and staff. Had Pacers been moving toward rebuild, maybe Bjorkgren stays. https://t.co/blXqxbzLiE
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 9, 2021
Pacers Head of Basketball Operations Kevin Pritchard was non-committal to the job security of Bjorkgren in May during a press conference at the end of their season. “I’m not committing either way,” Pritchard said.
Indiana will have to renew their coaching search after interviewing almost 20 candidates for the vacancy last season before hiring Bjorkgren according to ESPN. The team is expected to look for candidates with more head coaching experience.
Bjorkgren had one guaranteed year left on his original three-year deal.
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