Report: First-year Pacers coach Bjorkgren’s future with team ‘uncertain’

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Part of the buzz about first-year coach Nate Bjorkgren in Indiana is that he’s a micro-manager — and anyone who has worked for that kind of boss knows how frustrating it can be.

It seems to be impacting the team — which did not take a step forward as hoped — and the coaching staff, and now it may impact Bjorkgren’s job. His future with the club is “uncertain,” reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

Amid a year of difficulties with players and staff, Indiana Pacers coach Nate Bjorkgren’s future with the franchise is uncertain as the regular season nears an end, sources told ESPN.

Bjorkgren has significant work to do with his relationships among players throughout the team and with some members of the organization, but has thus far shown a willingness to try to address those issues, sources told ESPN.

The first thing to consider with this kind of rumor: Who leaked it? And what do they have to gain? Who benefits?

The Pacers are 30-34 on the season and sit as the ninth seed in the East, headed for the play-in games. Under Bjorkgren, the Indiana offense got a little better this season but the defense got a little worse, and overall the team has at best plateaued and maybe taken a small step back. More than that, the team has felt disjointed, in part due to the injuries and COVID-19, but in part due to Bjorkgren’s style.

The first-round playoff exit last season led to Nate McMillan being let go and Bjorkgren being hired. While there are questions around how far McMillan can take a franchise, his teams play hard, are well prepared and, they are solid during the regular season — we’ve seen how that can help a team by what he has done in Atlanta since taking over mid-season.

The Pacers don’t play with that kind of fire and consistency right now.

Bjorkgren has one guaranteed season left on his deal; ownership will have to decide if it’s willing to pay two coaches for a season if it could mean an improvement. Or if Bjorkgren can grow and adapt in his second season as the Pacers’ coach.