Nate Bjorkgren was fired after just one season at the helm of the Indiana Pacers. After a 34-38 season that ended in the second round in the play-in tournament, the Pacers decided that was not enough to retain the rookie head coach.
Now, Indiana begins its search for the next coach to take them back to the playoffs. Here are potential head coach candidates for the Indiana Pacers coaching vacancy.
It may not just be a coincidence that Bjorkgren was fired immediately after Stotts and Portland mutually parted ways.
Stotts made the playoffs eight times in nine seasons with the Trail Blazers. As an assistant coach, he won the 2011 NBA Finals with the Dallas Mavericks before being recognized as worthy of the Blazers job in 2012. He racked up a record of 402-318 while winning eight Western Conference Coach of the Month awards.
Even though he never reached an NBA Finals with the Blazers, he is one of the premiere offensive minds in the league. His time in Portland likely only came to an end because both sides wanted a fresh start, not because Stotts had no chance of winning there. A guard-heavy lineup is what he excels with, which makes this a perfect fit for both sides.
Speaking of coaches that do well with guard-heavy play, Marc Jackson would be a good fit with Indiana if they can lure him out of the announcer’s booth.
Jackson famously began the unstoppable force that has been the Golden State Warriors, the last two years excluded. He made one Western Conference Finals with Steph Curry and Klay Thompson before he was ousted for Steve Kerr. Under Kerr, Golden State famously made five consecutive NBA Finals appearances, winning three. It could very much be said that those accomplishments would have not been possible without Jackson allowing the two superstars to showcase their talent under his watch.
If Jackson does want another shot at coaching an NBA team, the Pacers would be a good fit. The roster is not NBA Finals-level, but Jackson shines when asked to showcase what a team excels in. The Pacers could allow him to do just that, shoring up the weak spots through trades to get the historic franchise back in the Finals.
The Pacers could make a splash by hiring the first female head coach in the history of the NBA. Currently an assistant coach with the Spurs, Hammon is surely chomping at the bit to break this barrier.
From 1999 to 2006, Hammon played for the New York Liberty in the WNBA. She was a six-time All Star during that span and made two WNBA First Teams. She has made history with the Spurs, serving under one of the best NBA coaches of all time, Gregg Popovich.
Her tenure in San Antonio has not garnered an NBA Championship, due to player turnover and the Warriors domination of the Western Conference. Hammon was not simply a diversity hire for the Spurs, though. She knows guard play and was named as one of the WNBA’s top 15 players of all time in 2011. She knows the game and could coach this Pacers roster to a better record and a playoff berth, quickly.
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