The Indiana Pacers have fired head coach Nate Bjorkgren after just one season, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported Wednesday afternoon. The Pacers missed the playoffs this season but were able to get a shot at the 8-seed via the play-in tournament. After defeating the Charlotte Hornets, the Pacers were demolished by the Washington Wizards for the No. 8 seed in the playoffs. The Pacers finished the shortened regular-season 34-38.
Update: The Pacers made the news official, announcing the firing of Bjorkgren.
Bjorkgren, who was an assistant under Nick Nurse with the Toronto Raptors prior to being hired by the Pacers, reportedly lost the locker room and front office throughout his very short tenure as head coach. While Bjorkgren lost the team, the team was also ravaged by injuries to key players like TJ Warren, Domantas Sabonis, Myles Turner, Malcolm Brogdon and Caris LeVert (after being acquired in the James Harden trade). All things considered, Bjorkgren still had the Pacers in position for a shot at a playoff berth, so we’ll give him a bit of credit there as a rookie head coach.
The Pacers had made the postseason in five straight years under head coach Nate McMillan, who was let go after losing in the NBA bubble in 2020. McMillan is still coaching right now, which probably made the Pacers feel even worse about their decision to let him go. McMillan was named interim coach of the Atlanta Hawks after they fired Lloyd Pierce mid-season. McMillan has the Hawks in position to reach the Eastern Conference Finals, tied 1-1 against the Philadelphia 76ers in the second round.
The Pacers are the fourth team to make a coaching decision so far this summer, joining the Portland Trail Blazers (Terry Stotts), Orlando Magic (Steve Clifford) and Boston Celtics (Brad Stevens). Stotts is apparently already drawing interest from the Pacers, per Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports.