Roughly two months after the Indiana Pacers relieved Nate McMillan of his coaching duties following another first-round playoff exit, they've landed their replacement.
Bjorkgren served under reigning NBA Coach of the Year Nick Nurse in Toronto as assistant coach the past two seasons and helped them win the 2019 NBA Finals. He also worked as player development coordinator and assistant coach of the Phoenix Suns for two seasons from 2015-17 and then signed on with Toronto as an advanced scout during the 2017-18 campaign.
Bjorkgren, 45, was an assistant under Nurse when the Iowa Energy won the 2010-11 NBA G League championship.
In the official team statement, Indiana president of basketball operations Kevin Pritchard said:
"We are very pleased and excited to have Nate as our new coach. This was an extensive and thorough search, and when we reached the conclusion, we felt strongly Nate is the right coach for us at the right time. He comes from a winning background, has experienced championship success, is innovative and his communication skills along with his positivity are tremendous. We all look forward to a long, successful partnership in helping the Pacers move forward."
"I am honored to take on the role as head coach of the Indiana Pacers," Bjorkgren added. "This is something I have prepared for during my career. I want to thank Kevin, Chad (Buchanan), Kelly (Krauskopf), Larry Bird, Donnie Walsh, and Herb and Steve Simon for this opportunity. I also want to thank Nick Nurse for giving me my first professional coaching job 14 years ago.
"I'm looking forward to working with this great team to achieve our goal as NBA Champions."
The Pacers have fallen in the first round of the playoffs in each of the past five years.