Pacers hire Raptors assistant Nate Bjorkgren as head coach

Nate Bjorkgren will replace Nate McMillan as head coach of the Pacers.

The Indiana Pacers have been consistent playoff participants over the last few years, but Nate McMillan has consistently hit a wall in the postseason. Despite his high winning percentage without a true superstar, Indiana decided to fire him after the 2019-20 season due to his playoff failures. Indiana finally decided on his replacement after a few months riding the coaching carousel, but it’s a name that came somewhat out of nowhere.

Shams Charania confirmed that Nate Bjorkgren, who spent the last two seasons as an assistant under Nick Nurse with the Toronto Raptors, will succeed McMillan as head coach.

Nate Bjorkgren, a relative unknown, will be a head coach for the first time

Bjorkgren got his start coaching in the G-League for almost a decade, serving as a coach with the Iowa Energy and Bakersfield Jam.  Jeff Hornacek gave him his big break in the NBA when he was named an assistant coach with the Phoenix Suns in 2015. He stayed with Phoenix until 2017, when he moved to Toronto to take a spot on Nurse’s staff.

The Pacers might’ve been swept by the Miami Heat in the postseason, but the core of Victor Oladipo, Myles Turner, and Domantas Sabonis will give Indiana one of the deepest, most complete teams in the Eastern Conference next year. As good as McMillan was, he went just 3-16 in the postseason, and Kevin Pritchard seems to think some of Nurse’s good postseason juju has rubbed off on Bjorkgren.

Bjorkgren doesn’t have the star power that a hire like Steve Nash or Tyronn Lue would have, but he has been an instrumental member of both an NBA champion and one of the East’s best teams this season. While there might be some roster turnover this year, Bjorkgren might have the tactical edge the Pacers need to make waves in the East.

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