Nate Bjorkgren Is Pacers' HC 'as of Now' amid Hot-Seat Rumors, Says Kevin Pritchard

Jenna CiccotelliCorrespondent IIMay 24, 2021

Indiana Pacers head coach Nate Bjorkgren calls a play during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Atlanta Hawks, Thursday, May 6, 2021, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
AP Photo/Darron Cummings

Nate Bjorkgren still has his job, but team president Kevin Pritchard was noncommittal about the first-year head coach's future with the Indiana Pacers on Monday. 

Pritchard said Bjorkgren is "our coach as of now," but he is "not committing either way" to keeping him around for another season, according to J. Michael of the Indy Star. Pritchard added that players had complaints about Bjorkgren's management style, though "no one said they were unhappy" in exit meetings. 

"I've got a young coach with super talent and X['s] and O's but needs some [improvement] in human management," Pritchard said.

The 45-year-old joined the Pacers after five years as an assistant for the Phoenix Suns and Toronto Raptors (the latter of which he helped lead to an NBA title in 2019). He stepped in for Nate McMillan, who was let go after his fourth consecutive first-round playoff exit. 

Bjorkgren finished 34-38 in his inaugural campaign, which nearly ended in a postseason trip.

The Pacers, who were marred by injuries at the end of the year, were eliminated in the second round of the play-in tournament after a 142-115 loss to the Washington Wizards. During the regular season, the Eastern Conference team never won more than three games in a row. 

In addition to reporting players were concerned about micromanagement from Bjorkgren, Michael noted that the new head coach "was resistant to change and input from his staff." 

Earlier this month, Bjorkgren took responsibility for the team's struggles while speaking with the media: 

"It's been a tough year. There's a lot of challenges being a head coach in this league. I don't make excuses for things. I'm a young coach. I'm learning, I'm growing and I've got to coach better. This is on me. I'm the head coach. Things should be pointed at me and rest on my shoulders."

"You don't win 34 games without doing some good things, but there are some things we need to do better and [Bjorkgren] needs to do better," Pritchard said Monday. 

Bjorkgren's contract is guaranteed through the upcoming season.