Indiana Pacers: 3 Possible Fallouts in Missing the Playoffs

Indiana Pacers (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Indiana Pacers (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /
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Indiana Pacers, Nate Bjorkgren
Indiana Pacers, Nate Bjorkgren Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports /

An Early Exit for the New Nate

The Pacers front office made a huge gamble in the offseason by firing head coach Nate McMillan after getting swept in the first-round last year. After a long search, the Blue and Gold tabbed former Toronto Raptors assistant Nate Bjorkgren to take over and modernize an approach that while successful, was often deemed outdated. The new Nate’s creative mind under Nick Nurse’s coaching tree was hoped to catapult Indiana out of its first-round funk.

Unfortunately, his creative juices have gone largely for naught this season. This is mostly due to the undermanned lineups and regular shuffles in the rotation that has resulted in a lack of stability and consistency for the squad. He has shown coaching flexibility in the campaign, especially with his possession-by-possession approach to both offensive and defensive schemes, but he has not been able to maximize the team’s ceiling and a bulk of that is out of his control.

In their impressive run in the early going of the season, he was considered as a potential Coach of the Year. However, all those talks have vanished as Indiana slowly faltered. Nate Bjorkgren is a bright mind with a keen eye for detail, but he is not flawless.

His sometimes-questionable rotations, refusal to rest Brogdon and Sabonis more, and his overreliance on the bench in 4th quarters are just some of the factors that have arguably resulted in a lot of blown leads and even injuries in the season. As a result, the Pacers brass may cut its ties with the young coach earlier than anticipated.

However, a more likely prompt for an early exit is his reported falling-out with the players, especially the locker room issues that have exacerbated the team’s disappointing campaign so far. While the credibility of recent barbed articles about his tendencies may be overblown, or even false, the fact that it’s on the surface speaks volumes about a lack of control within the team.

One-and-done coaching runs in the NBA are very rare, but it has already happened recently. Igor Kokoskov was notably fired by the Phoenix Suns only a season in after the team tallied a putrid 19-63 record in 2018-19. Monty Williams then came in and the franchise is now thriving.

In all honesty, Nate Bjorkgren has done a fine job considering the myriad of injuries and instability. Fans simply throw him off in comparison to his predecessor who managed to overcome injuries and yield better records.

However, it must be noted that while the Pacers have crumbled, the other teams in the East have simply gotten better. Hence, firing Bjorkgren and his creative mind is not desirable, but it is certainly a possibility that will float around if Indiana misses the postseason, for better or for worse.

Next. Why Nate Bjorkgren should not be fired. dark