Pacers fire Bjorkgren as coach after just 1 season

Kevin Pritchard hired Nate Bjorkgren to take the Indiana Pacers in a new direction.

Posted: Jun 9, 2021 3:27 PM

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Kevin Pritchard hired Nate Bjorkgren to take the Indiana Pacers in a new direction.

They wound up going the wrong way.

After struggling defensively, missing the playoffs for the first time in six seasons and amid reports of locker room drama, the Pacers pulled the plug Wednesday when Pritchard, their president of basketball operations, fired Bjorkgren as coach after just one 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,” Pritchard said in a statement.

Indiana went 34-38, finishing the season with an embarrassing 142-115 loss to Washington in the play-in tournament. The Pacers also produced their first losing season at home in 32 years, and at times the effort didn't appear to be there, either.

A rash of injuries was part of the problem. Indiana's top scorer in 2019-20, T.J. Warren, suffered a season-ending foot injury after just four games. NBA blocks champion Myles Turner went down with a season-ending foot injury on April 18. And after trading two-time All-Star Victor Oladipo for swingman Caris LeVert in January, LeVert missed the next 24 games after team doctors found a cancerous growth on his left kidney.

“I’ve never really seen anything like it," potential free agent Doug McDermott said. “I think part of it had to do with the schedule. A lot of games, not a lot of days off. I think we had eight games in 12 days to finish the season."

But the more tumultuous part of Bjorkgren's brief tenure came outside the lines.

While Warren publicly disputed a report that he didn't want to play for the coach following the season finale, other concerns spilled into the open. Warren also played for Bjorkgren when he was an assistant in Phoenix.

The injured Turner helped break up a spat between his replacement, Goga Bitadze, and assistant coach Greg Foster during a game in early May. Bitadze was fined and Foster was suspended for one game.

And Pritchard said players used the word “micromanaged” during interviews after their season ended.

Amid all of it, Pritchard declined to make an immediate decision after the loss to Washington and instead opted for more meetings with the former top assistant coach to Toronto coach Nick Nurse.

“Nate and I will have a long conversation over many days about what he needs to improve on," Pritchard said on May 24. “But to make a decision on a coach this quick with this information, I’m not prepared to do that right now.”

The Pacers haven't said what changed, but Pritchard also faced criticism during and after the underwhelming season.

Indiana has now fired two coaches in less than 12 months. Pritchard fired Nate McMillan in August after a third consecutive first-round playoff exit, just weeks after giving him a contract extension. McMillan helped take the Atlanta Hawks into the second round this season after losing his final nine playoff games with the Pacers.

Pritchard said the Pacers would move quickly to identify candidates to replace Bjorkgren but had no timetable for a hire. After conducting a search last fall that included nearly two dozen candidates, it's likely Pritchard already has some ideas about which direction he wants to go next.

“We have a lot of firepower, a lot of guys who can score,” two-time All-Star Domantas Sabonis said. “But we’re definitely going to have to sacrifice to get as far as we can in the playoffs. We have to come in with a different mindset next season.”

___

West Lafayette
Clear
86° wxIcon
Hi: 84° Lo: 63°
Feels Like: 84°
Kokomo
Partly Cloudy
81° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 63°
Feels Like: 81°
Rensselaer
Clear
75° wxIcon
Hi: 78° Lo: 63°
Feels Like: 75°
Fowler
Clear
86° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 84°
Williamsport
Clear
83° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 63°
Feels Like: 81°
Crawfordsville
Clear
81° wxIcon
Hi: 84° Lo: 60°
Feels Like: 80°
Frankfort
Clear
81° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 61°
Feels Like: 80°
Delphi
Clear
81° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 63°
Feels Like: 80°
Monticello
Clear
81° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 80°
Logansport
Clear
79° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 62°
Feels Like: 79°
Beautiful Week Ahead. Cooler, drier and less humid.
WLFI Temps
WLFI Planner

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 749097

Reported Deaths: 13745
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1030271775
Lake554211006
Allen41613691
St. Joseph36933564
Hamilton36505416
Elkhart29347459
Tippecanoe22849225
Vanderburgh22540400
Porter19313325
Johnson18386387
Hendricks17583317
Clark13190193
Madison13111344
Vigo12602253
LaPorte12385221
Monroe12152175
Delaware10947197
Howard10250225
Kosciusko9609119
Hancock8541144
Bartholomew8158157
Warrick7854156
Floyd7763180
Grant7227179
Wayne7154201
Boone6911103
Morgan6735141
Dubois6211118
Marshall6205116
Cass5989108
Henry5893108
Dearborn588878
Noble579786
Jackson508374
Shelby500697
Lawrence4727121
Gibson444093
Harrison440473
Clinton439855
DeKalb438585
Montgomery433890
Whitley405642
Huntington402181
Steuben398659
Miami392568
Jasper386254
Knox375690
Putnam371860
Wabash360583
Ripley346470
Adams344955
Jefferson335685
White329753
Daviess3028100
Wells294881
Decatur289992
Greene286385
Fayette284664
Posey273735
LaGrange272872
Scott269855
Clay265448
Randolph244683
Washington244534
Jennings235149
Spencer234131
Starke227558
Fountain218347
Sullivan213943
Owen210858
Fulton201542
Jay200832
Carroll193420
Orange188055
Perry186937
Rush175626
Vermillion173544
Franklin170135
Tipton165746
Parke148916
Pike137934
Blackford136032
Pulaski120047
Newton112636
Brown103943
Crawford102316
Benton100814
Martin91415
Warren83515
Switzerland8098
Union72810
Ohio57811
Unassigned0421

COVID-19 Important links and resources

As the spread of COVID-19, or as it's more commonly known as the coronavirus continues, this page will serve as your one-stop for the resources you need to stay informed and to keep you and your family safe. CLICK HERE

Closings related to the prevention of the COVID-19 can be found on our Closings page.

Community Events