Pacers suspend assistant coach, fine Bitadze for heated exchange
The Indiana Pacers are suspending assistant head coach Greg Foster for one game and fining center Goga Bitadze over their heated exchange during Wednesday's loss to the Sacramento Kings, the team announced.
After hitting a three in the third quarter with the Pacers down 24, Bitadze appeared to mouth "sit the f--- down" to someone on the bench while running back on defense. As Indiana called a timeout, an incensed Foster appeared to approach Bitadze in the huddle as personnel kept them apart.
Foster will serve his suspension Thursday when Indiana faces the Atlanta Hawks, sources told ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.
Pacers head coach Nate Bjorkgren was asked about the incident postgame and blamed a "frustrating stretch" for the blowup between the two, courtesy of ABC10's Sean Cunningham. Bjorkgren added he addressed the incident individually with both Bitadze and Foster.
Tensions within the Pacers may have escalated over recent days. The team is 4-7 in its last 11 games and has fallen into the play-in tournament range, with only 3.5 games separating them from the 11th-place Toronto Raptors.
Bjorkgren's future with Indiana has also been cast into doubt lately; a report on Tuesday suggested there were difficulties in the relationships between the first-year NBA bench boss and multiple players on the team, leaving his status with the franchise beyond this season uncertain.