Doug McDermott Says Pacers Are 'Really Lucky' to Have Head Coach Nate Bjorkgren

Adam WellsMay 21, 2021

WASHINGTON, DC -  MAY 20: Head Coach Nate Bjorkgren of the Indiana Pacers is interviewed during the game against the Washington Wizards during the 2021 NBA Play-In Tournament on May 20, 2021 at Capital One Arena in Washington, DC. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2021 NBAE (Photo by Stephen Gosling/NBAE via Getty Images)
Stephen Gosling/NBAE via Getty Images

Amid reports that members of the Indiana Pacers are unhappy with Nate Bjorkgren, at least one player is defending his head coach. 

Speaking to reporters on Friday, Doug McDermott said the Pacers are "really lucky" to have Bjorkgren. 

"It's a challenging year to be a head coach anywhere," McDermott added. "I have a lot of respect for that guy."

In a May 6 story, one NBA executive told B/R's Jake Fischer that Bjorkgren is "just completely out of his element as a leader."

Fischer added that Bjorkgren's communication style has been described as "aggressive and abrasive with players and members of the Pacers staff, from his front-of-the-bench assistants down to trainers and equipment personnel."

ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported Bjorkgren's future in Indiana was "uncertain," but he has shown a "willingness within the organization" to work on addressing the concerns. 

Bjorkgren was hired by Indiana in October after Nate McMillan was fired. Wojnarowski noted his contract with the Pacers is only guaranteed through the 2021-22 season, but includes a team option for 2022-23. 

The 45-year-old spent the previous two seasons as an assistant on Nick Nurse's coaching staff with the Toronto Raptors.  

The Pacers' season came to an end on Thursday night with a 142-117 loss to the Washington Wizards in the Eastern Conference play-in tournament. They finished 34-38 during the regular season, their first time under .500 since 2014-15 (38-44).