INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana — The Indiana Pacers announced Tuesday they hired Iowa native Nate Bjorkgren as their new head coach.
Bjorkgren will take over for Nate McMillan, who was fired by the Pacers on Aug. 26 after signing a contract extension just weeks earlier.
“We are very pleased and excited to have Nate as our new coach,” Pacers President of Basketball Operations Kevin Pritchard said in a statement. “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.”
Bjorkgren spent the last two seasons as an assistant coach for Carroll native Nick Nurse in Toronto. He helped the Raptors win their first NBA championship in 2018-19. Bjorkgren was an assistant with the Phoenix Suns from 2015-17 and spent four seasons as a head coach in the NBA G League.
“I am honored to take on the role as head coach of the Indiana Pacers,” Bjorkgren said. “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.”
Bjorkgren served as an assistant coach under Nurse with the Iowa Energy from 2007-11 and helped the Energy win the NBA G League title in 2010-11. Bjorkgren also served as a head coach in the NBA G League for four seasons with the Bakersfield Jam, Iowa Energy, Santa Cruz Warriors and Dakota Wizards.
Bjorkgren is a native of Storm Lake, Iowa. He played college basketball at the University of South Dakota and Buena Vista University. After graudating from Buena Vista in 1998, Bjorkgren taught and coached basketball at Linn-Mar and Sioux Central high schools.