Despite his non-descript Lego Man-like appearance, Raptors assistant coach Nate Bjorkgren is spending his off-season trying to stand out. Thanks to the dutiful radio work of Frank Isola, we now know that Bjorkgren has put his name up for consideration for the vacant Indiana Pacers head coaching position. And in the words of Raptors head coach Nick Nurse, he’s been deemed a “finalist” for the job.
Here’s the actual audio:
There’s not much more to report here, per se. Owing to their recent championship run and the overachieving season they just had, it’s obvious the Raptors entire coaching staff (save Nurse himself, who just re-upped his deal with Toronto) is now in demand. When a team has success, everyone in the organization tends to get another look because, well, maybe some of that winning will be transferrable to a new team. That’s the thinking anyway. And it’s why Bjorkgren’s name comes up now — and why, say, Adrian Griffin seemed to be previously in the running for the once-open Bulls job.
With the recent move by Billy Donovan to Chicago, however, and some other past hirings and firings, the list of vacant heading coaching positions now stands at five — Indiana, Houston, New Orleans, Oklahoma City, and Philadelphia. In Bjorkgren’s case, he’d have some mighty big shoes to fill, as the Pacers were the team to fire Nate McMillan, one of the more decorated and well-known coaches around. (In my opinion, blaming Indiana’s first round out in the 2020 playoffs on McMillan is a dumb idea, but I digress.) We don’t quite know how Bjorkgren would be as an actual head coach, but considering he’s come up in much the same way as Nurse — who was assistant in the NBA after head coaching in the then-D-League and internationally — it’s not impossible for Bjorkgren to become an NBA-level head coach too.
So, could Bjorkgren (or Griffin for that matter) be in line for the Pacers job or one of those other aforementioned positions? At this point, all we can say is: time will tell. Though I suspect that with the increased attention, it’ll just mean the Raptors will have to pay up if they want to keep their championship-level coaching staff together for the foreseeable future. When a team has success, that’s part of the deal too.