Cue the “surprised” Pikachu meme!
The Indiana Pacers have officially announced what felt borderline inevitable: Head coach Nate Bjorkgren has been fired after an extremely rocky first year on the job.
Bjorkgren was informed today of decision to dismiss him, sources said. He met with management on Tuesday. Pacers are expected to pursue a more experienced, established head coach in this process. Bjorkgren lost locker room and much of organization in his one year as coach. https://t.co/FSwxnl66Ed
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 9, 2021
Indiana ended this season 9th in the Eastern Conference with a record of 34-38, marking the first time they finished below .500 since the 2014-15 season. The team’s blowout loss to the Washington Wizards play-in tournament also ended their streak of five straight trips to the playoffs (though all were first-round losses).
With All-Star Domantas Sabonis on the roster and players like Malcolm Brogdon, Caris LeVert, and T.J. Warren under contract, there is no question the Pacers have enough talent to maintain their position as a consistent playoff contender. Bjorkgren’s abrasive coaching style, however, proved to be a setback this season when reports surfaced of locker room tension. The Athletic shared that Bjorkgren’s controlling approach over players and his staff came as a surprise to the organization. And while there were reports Bjrokgren was going to try to ease the vibes inside the locker room, we now know that the wheels were all the way off.
Bulls fans know how destructive a bad first impression can be (*cough* Boylen *cough*). And, fortunately for the Pacers, it appears they handled it much better than the Bulls’ previous regime. The question now is how will this impact the rest of the organization, and who might be in the running for the Pacers’ opening? The Pacers will have to deal with other attractive openings in Portland and Boston throughout their coaching search.
Speaking of which, Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes has already reported that former Blazers head coach Terry Stotts is a person of interest for Indiana.
Indiana Pacers expected to take a look at former Portland Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts, league sources tell @YahooSports.
— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) June 9, 2021
There were also some rumors earlier this season that the Pacers could look to trade some of their key players, with names like Brogdon, Sabonis, and Myles Turner all thrown into the conversation. With a big change coming to the coaching staff, it’s hard to rule out any other big changes inside the organization. While I don’t think we should expect any kind of fire sale, it will be interesting to see if the Pacers’ front office decides to add any other fresh faces into the mix.