AP Photo/Alex Brandon
Indiana Pacers head coach Nate Bjorkgren is in danger of his first year with the team becoming his only year with them.
According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Bjorkgren’s status with the franchise is”unsure” and he has”work to do on connections with key players” in the locker room ahead of this season finale.
The news comes as the 30-34 Pacers stay in contention for the NBA’s play-in championship. Indiana remains as the No. 9 seed using a half-game lead on the Washington Wizards in the 10th and final spot. The Pacers are four games back of the No. 6 Miami Heat, which are clinging to the automatic berth in the first round of the playoffs.
The Pacers fired head coach Nate McMillan past summer following four consecutive trips to the postseason ended in first-round losses. The consequent training investigation led Indiana to Bjorkgren, who spent 2018-2020 as a helper under Nick Nurse using the Toronto Raptors, helping the team win the NBA title in 2019.
Before that, Bjorkgren was an assistant for three seasons with the Phoenix Suns.
The Pacers gave the Iowa native an chance to serve as a head coach in the NBA for the first time, however he lead the D-League’s Bakersfield Jam into a championship in 2011.
That opportunity may be short-lived.
It’s uncertain which players Bjorkgren will have to win over, nevertheless stars such as Myles Turner, Domantas Sabonis and Caris LeVert are under contract via 2023 and constitute the club’s heart.
McMillan, meanwhile, is the interim head coach with the Atlanta Hawks, in which he has compiled a 21-11 record and helped lead an emerging group to the verge of a postseason berth.
Wojnarowski mentioned Bjorkgren has demonstrated a willingness to address his shortcomings and will look to enhance his position with both the coaching staff, the players and front office since he works to hold onto his job.