Indiana Pacers suspend assistant coach Greg Foster for one game and fine center Goga Bitadze for an emotional exchange on the field Wednesday night in a loss against the Sacramento Kings, sources tell ESPN.
Foster will interrupt Thursday night for the Pacers’ home game against the Atlanta Hawks, sources said.
Foster and Bitadze have had a strong working relationship this season for the Pacers, and it is expected to continue despite the exchange in the third quarter of Wednesday’s 104-93 loss. The Pacers have been in turmoil for several weeks due to the frayed relationship between head coach Nate Bjorkgren and the players, staff and organization, sources said.
After a King̵
During the next timeout, Foster broke out against Bitadze and had to be held back by staff and players.
Foster, a 13-year veteran as a player and eight years as an assistant coach in the NBA, has worked closely with Bitadze, a second-year center, and the coach and player have been eager to get past the incident, sources said.
The core of the Pacers’ questions has run much deeper this season, centered around the first-year head coach’s struggle to command respect in the locker room and the wider organization due to what sources have described as an unstable and abrasive style in his coaching and personal interactions. . Bjorkgren’s job is in jeopardy at the end of the season, sources said.
The Pacers are 30-35 and hold on to ninth place – which will place them in the Eastern Conference play-in tournament.