Bjorkgren lasted just one year on the job after being hired to replace Nate McMillan last summer. The Pacers finished a disappointing 34-38 under the first-year head coach, and they were eliminated by the Washington Wizards in the Eastern Conference play-in tournament last month.
Bjorkgren’s Dismal Campaign
Reports back in February surfaced that revealed that Bjorkgren had struggled to communicate with players, and that he had quickly lost the support of the locker room. Things came to a head in public last month when center Goga Bitadze got into a heated confrontation with assistant coach Greg Foster during a game against the Sacramento Kings.
Bjorkgren was hired last October after serving as an assistant under Nick Nurse with the Toronto Raptors.
Nate Bjorkgren is out as Indiana's coach, sources tell ESPN.
The Pacers Failed to Qualify for the Playoffs for the First Time in Six Years
Bjorkgren’s failure to connect with the team surely played a role, but the Pacers were also crushed by injuries. Myles Turner, TJ Warren, and Caris LeVert missed the play-in tournament, while Malcolm Brogdon, Jeremy Lamb, and Domantas Sabonis all missed significant time in the latter stages of the campaign.
Warren was reportedly among the players that was among the players that wanted Bjorkgren out. Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer reported earlier this season that Warren requested a trade shortly after Bjorkgren was hired. Warren played for the Phoenix Suns while Bjorkgren was an assistant earlier in his career. Warren suffered a season-ending foot injury in January and played in just four games this year.
Stotts Favored for the Job
Chris Haynes of Yahoo reported on Wednesday that former Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts is expected to receive strong consideration to take over for Bjorkgren ahead of next season. Stotts, who was just fired after 10 years on Portland’s bench, went to high school in the state and was inducted into the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame in 2019.
McMillan has gone on to find immediate success after leaving Indiana. He became an assistant with the Atlanta Hawks under Lloyd Pierce before the season began, and he was appointed interim head coach when Pierce was fired in February.
McMillan has since rallied the Hawks into a playoff spot, and they are currently tied at a game apiece with the Philadelphia 76ers in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
While Stotts is now a -150 favorite to take over for Bjorkgren, he isn’t the only candidate expected to receive consideration. Brooklyn Nets assistant Mike D’Antoni is checking in at +200 to become the Pacers’ next head coach. Clippers assistant Kenny Atkinson (+350), former 76ers head coach Brett Brown (+500), and ESPN analyst Mark Jackson (+750) are other potential replacements.
Taylor Smith has been a staff writer with GamblingSites.org since early 2017. Taylor is primarily a sports writer, though he will occasionally dabble in other things like politics and entertainment betting. His primary specialties are writing about the NBA, Major League Baseball, NFL and domestic and international soccer. Fringe sports like golf and horse racing aren’t exactly his cup of tea, bu ...
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