Foster will serve the suspension Thursday night for the Pacers’ home game against the Atlanta Hawks, sources said.
Foster and Bitadze have had a solid working relationship this season for the Pacers, and that is expected to continue despite the trade in the third quarter of Wednesday’s 104-93 loss. The Pacers have been in turmoil for weeks over the frayed relationship between head coach Nate Bjorkgren and players, staff and organization, sources said.
After a Kings dunk in the lane, Foster called on Bitadze to better protect the rim. On the floor, Bitadze made a 3 point pointer and turned to the Pacers bench and told Foster to “Sit the f – down,” according to the replay and confirmed by sources.
During the next timeout, Foster erupted towards Bitadze and had to be restrained by staff and players.
Foster, a 13-year veteran as a player and eight years as an NBA assistant coach, has worked closely with second-year center Bitadze, and the coach and player are eager to overcome the incident, sources said.
The crux of the Pacers’ issues runs much deeper this season, centering squarely on the first-year head coach’s struggles to command respect in the locker room and the wider organization due to what the sources have described. like a volatile and abrasive style in his training and personal interactions. Bjorkgren’s job is in jeopardy at the end of the season, sources say.
The Pacers are 30-35 and maintain their ninth place finish – which would put them in the Eastern Conference play-in tournament.