Toronto Raptors assistant coach Nate Bjorkgren has been hired by the Indiana Pacers as the club’s next head coach, the team announced Tuesday

Bjorkgren, As a member of Toronto’s staff during its championship run in 2019, Bjorkgren was considered a strong candidate for the job. Toronto head coach Nick Nurse confirmed in late September that Bjorkgren had interviewed with the Pacers and said that he was confident Bjorkgren would be a finalist.“We felt strongly Nate is the right coach for us at the right time,” Pacers President Kevin Pritchard said Tuesday in a media release. “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.”

The terms of Bjorkgren’s contract were not disclosed.

Bjorkgren, 45, joined the Raptors’ staff in 2018. Prior to joining the Raptors, Bjorkgren was an assistant for the Phoenix Suns from 2015 to 2017.

As a coach in the NBA’s developmental G League, he compiled a 126-74 record as head coach for the Dakota Warriors/Wizards (61-39), Iowa Energy (31-19) and Bakersfield Jam (31-19).

He served as an assistant coach under head coach Nurse for Iowa from 2007-11 and helped the Energy win the 2010-11 NBA G League championship.


Bjorkgren will replace another Nate—former Pacers head coach Nate McMillan, who was fired in August after the team lost in the first round of the NBA playoffs for the fifth straight year.

McMillan took over coaching duties of the Pacers prior to the 2016-17 season and led the team to a 183-136 record. But his record in the playoffs was 3-16.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reported Tuesday afternoon that Bjorkgren sold the Pacers on his history of innovation, adaptability and winning in his time as an NBA assistant and G League head coach.

While popular with fans and players, McMillan was seen by many as an old-school throwback who wasn’t in step with the latest trends in coaching.

Pritchard said after McMillan’s departure that he was searching for a replacement who could communicate better with today’s players, someone with a more updated playing style and someone who could win in the playoffs.

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