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Pacers fire Nate Björkgren after 1 season

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The Indiana Pacers sacked Nate Bjorkgren on Wednesday, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

The Pacers finished 34-39 and ninth in the Eastern Conference in Bjorkgren’s first season in Indianapolis. He was previously an assistant coach with the Toronto Raptors and Phoenix Suns.

Bjorkgren came under fire in the last few weeks of the season after Wojnarowski reported his future was “uncertain” due to his relationships within the team and the organization.

According to the ESPN report, the Pacers suffered an embarrassing incident on May 5th when they lost to the Sacramento Kings.

Assistant coach Greg Foster broke out on center Goga Bitadze after the Kings’ Maurice Harkless dipped about Bitadze, who stopped and watched. Bitadze hit a 3-pointer on the next move and yelled to Foster on the bench “sit the f *** down”. Foster then yelled at Bitadze during a break.

Foster was banned from one game for the incident and Bitadze was fined an unknown amount by the team.

TJ Warren reportedly wanted out after Bjorkgren was hired

Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer reported that TJ Warren filed a trade when Bjorkgren was hired and underwent surgery in March for a fatigue fracture in his foot that ended his season – and Bjorkgren’s time – prematurely. Warren was a member of the Suns when Bjorkgren was assistant coach there.

The Pacers have had a variety of injuries this season. Center Myles Turner dropped out with a toe injury after leading an average of 3.4 blocks per game in the NBA and being in the middle of the Defensive Player of the Year buzz.

Indiana traded Victor Oladipo in January as part of a four-team deal to the Houston Rockets after a long-term contract extension was not achieved. That deal brought Caris LeVert to Indiana, where doctors found a cancerous mass on his kidney that was removed. That put LeVert out of action for two months.

Guards Jeremy Lamb (knee) and Malcolm Brogdon (thigh) have also missed time, including recently.

Bjorkgren took over after Indiana sacked Nate McMillan after two early playoff failures in 2019 and 2020. McMillan is currently the Atlanta Hawks’ interim head coach, replacing Lloyd Pierce, who was fired before this season’s All-Star break.

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Nate Björkgren holds his face mask as he yells from the sidelines.

The Indiana Pacers sack their freshman head coach, Nate Bjorkgren, amid internal turmoil. (AP photo / David Zalubowski)

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Montreal Canadiens coach Dominique Ducharme symptom-free, hopes to return in days

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montreal canadiens coach dominique ducharme symptom free, hopes to return in

MONTREAL – Canadien’s interim coach Dominique Ducharme said on Sunday that he had remained symptom-free two days after testing positive for COVID-19 and that he hopes to be back behind the bench during the Stanley Cup semi-final series in Montreal against Vegas.

Ducharme wore a dark blue collared Canadiens shirt, white hair and a familiar short stubble on his chin and spoke to reporters from an unknown location during a 12-minute video conference, his first comments since his mandatory isolation.

“I wish I could be on the rink now. I don’t feel any different than I did a week ago,” said Ducharme as the Canadiens prepared to host Vegas in Game 4 on Sunday night.

Montreal has a 2-1 lead in the series, Game 5 in Vegas is scheduled for Tuesday. If necessary, Game 6 will be played in Montreal on Thursday and Game 7 in Vegas on Saturday.

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Ducharme was asked if he would have to spend 14 days in isolation.

“I’m confident I’ll be back before that,” he said.

Ducharme said he was fully vaccinated against the coronavirus and would end the two-week waiting period after his second vaccination on Wednesday.

It is unclear whether 48-year-old Ducharme will be able to return at this point.

“Until then, nothing has been confirmed. The organization is in contact with the authorities. It is a unique situation. We have been isolated since December,” said Ducharme in French.

Ducharme said no one he had contact with, including his girlfriend, tested positive. He said he was following NHL COVID-19 protocols when the Canadiens traveled to Vegas last week to open the series.

The Canadiens were restricted to certain areas of their Vegas hotel and had to take the bus to and from the ice rink.

Montreal, a member of the NHL’s Canadian North Division, is the only Canadian team to cross the line this season after teams were restricted to play within the division in the second round of the playoffs.

“It’s frustrating because I did everything you asked us to. I never exposed myself. I was so unlucky,” said Ducharme, who is in daily contact with his team and employees by phone and video call.

This is the second straight postseason that Montreal assistant Luke Richardson has had to step in in an emergency. Last summer, Richardson and former assistant coach Kirk Muller shared coaching duties after Claude Julien was hospitalized with chest pain after the first game of the Montreal-Philadelphia first-round series.

Julien missed the rest of the playoffs and resumed coaching that season before being sacked and replaced by Ducharme on February 24th.

It was difficult for Ducharme to watch out of isolation as the Canadiens recovered in Game 3 on Friday with a 3-2 win in extra time after two one-goal deficits.

“You feel helpless to watch and hope for the best. It’s a strange situation,” said Ducharme. “A special situation, but it was a special year. We’ve been through a lot. And we’ll get through that.”

The Canadiens had the worst record of the NHL’s 16 playoff qualifiers before upsetting Toronto and Winnipeg in the first two rounds.

The Golden Knights have already seen this scenario this postseason. Colorado Avalanche coach Jared Bednar missed a morning skate due to a COVID-19 test irregularity and was released in time to coach in Game 6 of the second round series against Vegas.

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Brooklyn Nets Guardian Spencer Dinwiddie wants to turn down the $ 12.3 million player option

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brooklyn nets guardian spencer dinwiddie wants to turn down the

Brooklyn Nets Guardian Spencer Dinwiddie plans to turn down the $ 12.3 million player option on his 2021-22 contract and become an unrestricted free agent before the deadline on Monday, sources told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Dinwiddie missed most of the season with a cruciate ligament injury in his right knee and appeared in just three games. He tried to possibly get back to the NBA final, but the Nets were eliminated by the Milwaukee Bucks in the Eastern Conference semifinals on Saturday.

Dinwiddie, 28, has had a history of ACL injuries. During his junior year in Colorado, Dinwiddie tore his left ACL in one game and missed the rest of the season.

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Dinwiddie was a key player for Brooklyn last season, starting in 49 games when Kyrie Irving and Caris LeVert were out injured. He averaged 20.6 points and 6.8 assists in the 2019-20 season but was diagnosed with COVID-19 in late June and did not travel to Orlando with the Nets to restart the season.

The 6-foot-5 Dinwiddie has averaged 12.9 points and 5.0 assists over portions of seven seasons with the Nets and Detroit Pistons.

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The Uganda Olympic trainer tests positive for Covid after arriving in Japan

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Uganda Olympic Committee President Donald Rukare said the unnamed trainer had no symptoms. It is not yet clear whether the trainer, who is in a government facility, will be banned from participating or sent home.

The entire Ugandan Olympic delegation, which includes 26 athletes and 30 staff, has been fully vaccinated with two syringes of AstraZeneca, Rukare said.

Many received their second dose of the vaccine this month, about three months after receiving their first dose, Rukare said.

The eight others who arrived with the Covid-positive trainer have traveled to Izumisano City in Osaka Prefecture, where they will be housed, according to Izumisano City official Hideo Takagaki. Rukare said the octet is in a bubble and is being tested daily.

Japan's leading Covid-19 advisor says holding the Olympics without spectators is "he wishes"

More athletes and employees of the Ugandan Olympic team are expected to arrive in Japan in the coming days.

Ugandans are among the first to arrive in Japan ahead of the Tokyo Olympics amid security concerns as the country battles a fourth wave of Covid-19. The Asian host nation has fully vaccinated less than 7% of its population, and doctors are warning that an Olympic super-spreader event could bring Japan’s overburdened medical system to the brink. At least 10,000 of the 80,000 people who have signed up for help with the Games have already stopped, and Japan’s top coronavirus advisor said Friday that hosting the Olympics with no spectators would be “desirable”. Uganda’s Olympic athletes are some of the first people in the African nation to receive the vaccine – Uganda has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the world, with only 2 doses per 100 people. The country of 45 million people is currently battling a second wave with reported cases up 130% in the first two weeks of June. Uganda also has a relatively high test positive rate, with 19% of tests being positive according to Johns Hopkins University, suggesting that authorities are not covering all Covid-19 cases. This week has the Uganda Rugby Union tweeted that the Sevens national team withdrew from an Olympic qualifier in Monaco after reporting Covid-19 cases within the team.

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