In a surprise move, the Indiana Pacers have hired Nate Bjorkgren as their new head coach. The Pacers didn’t want to make the obvious choice for their next head coach, which could’ve led to 16-year veteran Mike D’Antoni.
Instead, they wanted to take a chance on someone considered fresh and new, which could’ve meant novice Chauncey Billups.
In hiring Toronto Raptors assistant Nate Bjorkgren on Tuesday, they covered all angles at once with a young but experienced coach who has a track record of trying new things.
Bjorkgren has spent the past two seasons with Nick Nurse in Toronto after winning the G League title together in 2010-11, making him the first assistant coach to win an NBA Finals (Raptors) and an NBA G League title (Iowa Energy).
The 45-year-old Iowa native was also an assistant with the Phoenix Suns from 2015-2017 under coaches Jeff Hornacek and Earl Watson. Bjorkgen compiled a 126-74 record as a head coach for four different teams in the G-League.
Bjorkgren replaces Nate McMillan, who was fired after four seasons in charge and three first-round sweeps.