One day after ESPN reported coach Nate Bjorkgren faces an uncertain future with Indiana, the new coach blamed himself for any communication problems with players and those in the organization. “You know I don’t make excuses for things,” he told reporters before the game. “I’m a young coach. I’m learning, I’m growing and I’m trying to be better. This is on me. I’m the head coach and fingers should be pointed at me. I love coaching this team and the relationships with these coaches and players, I’ve just got to keep getting better.”
Players throughout the roster have voiced their dissatisfaction with Bjorkgren and their general unhappiness amid a down season, including key star players in Domantas Sabonis and Malcolm Brogdon, sources said. Those sources say Bjorkgren has implemented an analytics style of coaching that players privately do not find suitable for the roster, and that there have been issues among the coaching staff at times. Bjorkgren has worked to address matters internally, and one source described him as “over-communicative” to make sure he is sharing and receiving messages from the roster. One coaching source predicted that this would have a similar ending to what took place in Charlotte in 2013, when former St. John’s assistant Mike Dunlap was fired after just one season amid widespread player frustration.
Amid a year of difficulties with players and staff, Indiana Pacers coach Nate Bjorkgren's future with the franchise is uncertain as the regular season nears an end, sources told ESPN.
Bjorkgren has significant work to do with his relationships among players throughout the team and with some members of the organization, but has thus far shown a willingness to try to address those issues, sources told ESPN.
Scott Agness: There’s a lot of issues inside the locker room that need to be addressed. It’s been an unusual year, but things have been bumpy.
A lot of variables factor into this slide after such a promising start to the season, but a coaching staff shakeup is likely to happen before next season, another league source told IndyStar. There's no indication that Bjorkgren's job is in jeopardy in the first season of a guaranteed multi-year deal, the same league source said.
Bjorkgren, multiple sources said, can be too much of a micro-manager and controlling. Brogdon and Sabonis have had his ear. Another source conceded that's to be expected for a first-year coach learning his way to be hands-on and rely on his go-to guys.
June 18, 2021 | 6:13 pm EDT Update
Adrian Wojnarowski: Phoenix Suns All-Star guard Devin Booker has committed to join the 12-man Team USA roster for the Summer Olympics in Tokyo, sources tell ESPN.
Brian Mahoney: Steve Nash, keeping the faith in a Game 7 without Kyrie and a limited Harden: “This is what it is. This is the deck we have. We’re going to solve as many puzzles as we can and we’re also going to try to play our hearts out and enjoy the opportunity, as we have done all year.”
Tom Moore: #Hawks coach Nate McMillan: ‘We’ve been finding our shot mostly in the second half. We need to shoot the ball better. … Our defense has been doing a pretty good at holding and getting stops.’
Sarah K. Spencer: I asked Nate McMillan about Onyeka Okongwu in Game 5: “We’re looking for energy, from his position, when he steps into the game. A rookie playing in his first year, basically go out there and outwork your opponent. He’s been able to do that and give us good minutes.”
Anthony Slater: Klay Thompson, from his boat, updating his patient rehab approach: “Hopefully (return) early next season. The Achilles is like a 12-month recovery phase. I also have to factor in my left knee. I don’t want to come back and be half myself.” Thompson had Achilles surgery on Nov 25