This has been rumored around the league going back to the second half of the season, then seemed destined when GM Kevin Pritchard would not commit to him at an end-of-season press conference. Now it has become official:
Nate Bjorkgren has been fired as head coach of the Pacers after one season on the job, a story broken by Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN and since confirmed by the Pacers themselves.
The Indiana Pacers announced that Nate Bjorkgren will not be retained as the team’s head coach.
— Indiana Pacers (@Pacers) June 9, 2021
This move wasn’t entirely about on the court performance, although that was lower than expectations. Indiana finished 34-38, was the ninth seed in the East, but then lost its second play-in game to Washington. The bigger issues were communication with players — who thought Bjorkgren too negative and antagonistic, not someone in their corner — and with assistant coaches, who felt Bjorkgren micromanaged them, according to sources around the league. There was a lot of frustration and a lack of unity in the Pacers locker room, and Bjorkgren was at the heart of the issues. That cost him his job.
Since before Bjorkgren was fired, former Portland coach Terry Stotts has been linked to this job.
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
Pritchard will do more than a one-person coaching search — he interviewed 20 people a year ago before hiring Bjorkgren — but Stotts is a smart, steady, and experienced voice that could be a good fit for Indiana.
There is real talent on the Pacers roster with Malcolm Brogdon, Caris LeVert, and the big man combination of Domantas Sabonis and Myles Turner (although figuring out how far they can go as a franchise with those two playing next to each other, or if it’s time to move on from one of them, seems to be the next big task for Indiana). Whoever gets hired as the Pacers’ next coach will have talent to work with and the expectations that come with it.