Pacers hire Raptors assistant Nate Bjorkgren as new coach


After parting ways with Nate McMillan after a sweep in the first round of the playoffs, the Indiana Pacers have found their next head coach in Toronto Raptors assistant Nate Bjorkgren. The team made the rental official on Tuesday afternoon, but contract details are unknown.

Bjorkgren has been an assistant for the Raptors since 2018 after Nick Nurse became the coach in Toronto. Bjorkgren previously worked with Nurse with the G League affiliate team formerly known as Iowa Energy from 2007 to 2011. He was also an assistant with the Phoenix Suns, under coach Jeff Hornacek.

Basketball operations president Kevin Pritchard spoke about the qualities Bjorkgren brings to Indiana, including his championship experience with the Raptors.

“We are very happy and delighted to have Nate as a new coach,” said Pritchard. “It was a thorough and thorough research, and when we came to the conclusion we were convinced that Nate was the right coach for us at the right time. with his positivity are great. We all look forward to a long and successful partnership to help the Pacers move forward.

He went from being a high school coach in Phoenix, Arizona to the G League, where he won a championship in 2011, assisting in the 2019 Raptors Championship squad and now he has his first chance at a concert of ‘head coach. Throughout his coaching career in the G League, he compiled a 126-74 record with four different teams.

“I am honored to take on the role of head coach of the Indiana Pacers,” Bjorkgren said in a team statement. “It’s something I’ve prepared myself for in my career. I would like to thank Kevin, Chad (Buchanan), Kelly (Krauskopf), Larry Bird, Donnie Walsh, Herb and Steve Simon for this opportunity. I also want to thank Nick Nurse for giving me my first job as a professional coach 14 years ago. ”

Nurse and Bjorkgren have a rich history, as the two have not only coached through the G League and the NBA together, but have also faced each other as coaches. During the 2013 D-League Championship, Bjokgren’s Santa Cruz Warriors lost to Nurse’s Rio Grande Vipers, and after the two coaches exchanged banter after the match, Bjokgren said Nurse told him that ‘they could both be coaches to the next level.

“He said, ‘There’s no reason we can’t do this to the next level,'” Bjorkgren said in an interview with the Des Moines Register after the Raptors won the NBA Championship. “And of course he was right about a couple of things, and he was here again. ”

Nurse is right again, as Bjorkgren will join him in the ranks of NBA head coaches.

With the hiring of Bjorkgren, the Pacers are hopeful that a new coach in the locker room will finally allow this team to overcome the many first round outings in the playoffs. The Pacers lost in the first round of the playoffs to the Heat in the NBA bubble, but injuries to several key players certainly played a part in that.

Bjorkgren will inherit a promising Indiana team, along with All-Stars Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis, as well as Malcolm Brogdon, Myles Turner and TJ Warren. They are a defensively strong team who have yet to reach their potential, or have really had a lot of time to develop some sort of chemistry, so Bjorkgren will have the opportunity to help create a identity for this team.


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