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 “uncertain” and he has “work to do on relationships with key players” in the locker room ahead of the season finale.
The news comes as the 30-34 Pacers remain in contention for the NBA’s play-in tournament. Indiana remains as the No. 9 seed with 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 last automatic berth in the first round of the playoffs.
The Pacers fired head coach Nate McMillan last summer after four consecutive trips to the postseason ended in first-round losses. The resulting coaching search led Indiana to Bjorkgren, who spent 2018-2020 as an assistant under Nick Nurse with the Toronto Raptors, helping the club 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 opportunity to serve as a head coach in the NBA for the first time, though he lead the D-League’s Bakersfield Jam to a championship in 2011.
That opportunity may be short-lived.
It’s unclear which players Bjorkgren will need to win over, however stars like Myles Turner, Domantas Sabonis and Caris LeVert are all under contract through 2023 and make up the club’s core.
McMillan, meanwhile, is the interim head coach with the Atlanta Hawks, where he’s compiled a 21-11 record and helped lead an emerging group to the verge of a postseason berth.
Wojnarowski noted Bjorkgren has shown a willingness to address his shortcomings and will look to improve his standing with both the coaching staff, the players and front office as he works to hold onto his job.
Courtesy: Bleacher Report