The Indiana Pacers are penalizing reserve big man Goga Bitadze and assistant coach Greg Foster after the two were involved in a mid-game scuffle Wednesday night.
Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reported Thursday Foster has been suspended for a game, while Bitadze has been fined for his role in the altercation. Wojnarowski noted the two have a “strong working relationship,” but the frustration seems to be boiling over in Indiana:
Pacers are suspending assistant Greg Foster for one game and fining Goga Bitadze for exchange on court Wednesday, sources tell ESPN. Foster and Bitadze have had a strong working relationship this season and that’s expected to continue, but emotions are running high in Indiana.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) May 6, 2021
The incident was sparked by Bitadze essentially allowing Sacramento Kings forward Maurice Harkless get to the rim for an easy dunk.
Foster must have been barking at Bitadze, because the Pacers big man appeared to hurl expletives in his direction after hitting a 3-pointer at the other end of the floor. Naturally, things spilled over during a timeout, as Foster ripped into Bitadze.
It has been a trying year for the Pacers. Indiana has struggled to live up to the billing of Eastern Conference contender while just barely staying in the hunt for the play-in tournament.
Moreover, there appears to be a good deal of turmoil in the locker room. Wojnarowski reported first-year head coach Nate Bjorkgren’s job status is in serious question nearing the conclusion of the regular season:
“Amid a year of difficulties with players and staff, Indiana Pacers coach Nate Bjorkgren’s future with the franchise is uncertain as the regular season nears an end,” Wojnarowski reported.
But it would seem the issues go well beyond just Bjorkgren, if this latest incident is any indication.
The Pacers are currently the No. 9 seed in the Eastern Conference with seven games remaining. They take on the Atlanta Hawks on Thursday night.