The Pacers officially named Bjorkgren as their new head coach Tuesday but did not disclose terms of his deal.
Bjorkgren, a disciple of reigning NBA Coach of the Year Nick Nurse, sold the Pacers on his history of innovation, adaptability and winning in his time as an NBA assistant and G League head coach, according to sources.
“We are very pleased and excited to have Nate as our new coach,” Pacers president of basketball operations Kevin Pritchard said in a statement released by the team. “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.”
Bjorkgren worked with Nurse in two stops in the G League, winning a title with him in 2011 in Iowa. Bjorkgren reached the G League Finals as head coach of Santa Cruz in 2013 before arriving in the NBA in 2015 as an assistant with the Phoenix Suns.
Bjorkgren, 45, reunited with Nurse in Toronto in July 2018 and was a part of his staff in the Raptors’ championship season.
“I am honored to take on the role as head coach of the Indiana Pacers,” Bjorkgren said in a statement. “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 are replacing Nate McMillan, who was dismissed after four consecutive trips to the playoffs. McMillan had a 183-136 record in Indiana, including 3-16 in the postseason.
The Pacers have made five consecutive postseason appearances but have been swept in the first round each of the past two years.
Marco Belinelli signs deal to return to his native Italy
BOLOGNA, Italy — Marco Belinelli is going back to Italy, announcing Thursday that he has signed a three-year contract to play for Virtus Bologna.
The guard spent 13 seasons in the NBA, playing for nine different teams — Golden State, Toronto, New Orleans, Chicago, Charlotte, Sacramento, Atlanta, Philadelphia and, most recently, San Antonio.
Belinelli, 34, had two stints with the Spurs, helping them win the 2014 NBA title before returning for the last two seasons.
He averaged 9.7 points in 860 regular-season games.
Virtus Bologna plays in Italy’s top league and features a roster that includes longtime European standout and former LA Clippers guard Milos Teodosic along with former Miami Hurricanes star Julian Gamble. The team’s season started in late September and is scheduled to go through May.
Frank Kaminsky agrees to one-year deal with Kings
The Phoenix Suns declined Kaminsky’s $5.2 million team option last week.
Kaminsky, 27, helps to shore up the Kings’ frontcourt rotation, which took a hit with the recent departures of Harry Giles and Alex Len in free agency. Sacramento also agreed to a one-year deal with center Hassan Whiteside.
Kaminsky averaged 9.7 points, 4.5 rebounds and 1.9 assists in 39 games last season, his first with the Suns.
The 7-footer has career averages of 9.8 points, 4.0 rebounds and 1.6 assists in 321 games over five seasons.
The Charlotte Hornets selected him ninth overall in the 2015 draft and he spent his first four seasons with the team.
Golden State Warriors’ Klay Thompson has surgery on torn Achilles; full recovery expected
Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson underwent surgery on Wednesday and is expected to make a full recovery from a season-ending tear to his right Achilles tendon, a source told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
Dr. Richard Ferkel, a noted specialist on ankle injuries, performed the surgery in Los Angeles and it was considered a success, the source said.
Thompson, a five-time All-Star, tore his right Achilles tendon during a workout with several NBA players last week in Southern California. He had an MRI the next morning that revealed the severity of the injury.
Thompson, 30, missed all of last season after tearing the ACL in his left knee during Game 6 of the 2019 NBA Finals against the Toronto Raptors. The Warriors were optimistic that Thompson, who has spent more than a year rehabbing the injury, would come back at full strength for the 2020-21 season. Now they will spend another season without him on the court.
The injury is a huge blow for the Warriors, who were an NBA-worst 15-50 last season as they struggled without Thompson and Stephen Curry, who had a broken left hand that sidelined him for more than four months.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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