INDIANAPOLIS-- Nate Bjorkgren has been fired as the head coach of the Indiana Pacers, according to a tweet from ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski on Wednesday.
Wojnarowski's tweets can be seen embedded below.
Wojnarowski reports that Bjorkgren was informed of the decision on Wednesday after meeting with management on Tuesday and says the Pacers will look to bring in a more experienced coach.
After just one season in Indiana, Wojnarowski also says that Bjorkgren lost the locker room.
The Pacers (34-38) finished the season as the ninth seed in the Eastern Conference and played in the NBA's first-ever play-in tournament. They beat the Charlotte Hornets at home in the first game but got destroyed by the Washington Wizards on the road in the second game and had their season end just one game shy of the postseason.
As for team stats, the Pacers were not playing the basketball that fans and the NBA have been accustomed to from their organization.
They were a high-powered offensive team who averaged 115.7 points per game, good for sixth-best in the NBA. However, they let their opposition also score 115.7 points per game, which was 26th-worst in the league.
In 2020, when Nate McMillan was still the head coach, the Pacers allowed just 107.7 points per game, fourth-best in the NBA. More on team stats can be read here.
"We've had such a defensive culture that it's different and we know that we're going to have to get back to that,'' Pacers President of Baksetball Operations told AllPacers in April. "We're trying to emphasize it every day from here on out and will put an emphasis on it next year too because defense has served us well.
"Even though we haven't done as well in the playoffs, we've gotten there, we've been competitive, and if it wasn't for a couple injuries, who knows where we would have been? We're not going to use that excuse. We've gotta get back to that hard hat and lunch-pale type of mantra."
On top of the offensive and defensive shift, the Pacers went from being one of the best home teams in the NBA to being one of the worst when playing at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
They did go 21-15 on the road, but went an abysmal 13-23 in Indiana.
This was the first time in 31 years the team did not have a winning record at home.
Not everything can be blamed on Bjorkgren, a former assistant with the Toronto Raptors, as the team had to deal with several injuries all season long.
T.J. Warren, who led the team in scoring the season, played in just four games, Myles Turner, who leads the team in blocks, missed 25 games in the regular season and Domantas Sabonis and Malcolm Brogdon both missed 10-plus games and the Pacers only had Caris LeVert, who came to the Pacers in the Victor Oladipo trade, for 35 games this season.
Early in the season, the Pacers were once the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference playoff race.
Wojnarowski stated that if they had been going into a rebuild, maybe they would have kept Bjorkgren, but right now, with their experienced roster, they should be an Eastern Conference playoff team.
The Pacers have now announced the news in a Tweet below.
Articles from earlier in the year on Bjorkgren
- PACERS WON'T COMMIT TO BJORKGREN: Pacers' President of Basketball Operations, Kevin Pritchard, did not commit to keeping Bjorkgren for next season in his end-of-season press conference. CLICK HERE.
- NATE MCMILLAN THRIVING: The Indiana Pacers may have made the wrong decision firing Nate McMillan as head coach and hiring Nate Bjorkgren as he is currently thriving with the Atlanta Hawks in the NBA Playoffs. CLICK HERE.
- NATE BJORKGREN SPOKE ON TURMOIL: Nate Bjorkgren spoke on the turmoil with the Indiana Pacers in May. CLICK HERE.