Looks like Nate Bjorkgren just hired his Nate Bjorkgren.
According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski Bjorkgren and the Pacers continue to fill out their coaching staff, reportedly hiring Kaleb Canales.
The Indiana Pacers are hiring Kaleb Canales as an assistant coach, sources tell ESPN. Canales has had extended recent runs with Knicks (2018-2020), Mavericks (2013-2018) and Blazers (2008-2012). Canales was an interim HC with Portland in 2012.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) November 9, 2020
Canales has been an assistant coach in the league since 2008, yet he is just 42 years old. Yes, he’s one of those guys. A coaching grinder who made his way to an NBA bench via the video room, staring in 2005 with the Portland Trail Blazers.
He worked under Nate McMillan with the Blazers through 2012 when McMillan was let go late in the season and Canales was given the interim head coaching job for the remainder of the season (more on that later).
In 2013, Canales moved to Dallas and worked under Rick Carlisle until 2018 when he went to New York in a similar role with the Knicks until getting the call to join the Pacers. With his experience, Canales seems like the perfect assistant coach to fill the role Bjorkgren had while assisting Nick Nurse in Toronto.
All I need to know about Canales, I learned one night in the Fieldhouse when the Pacers took on the Blazers in 2012. Portland had some bad matchups for the Pacers that year, but the Pacers would win the game 92-75. The good guys established a ten point lead at the half and then buried the Blazers in the third quarter. The game was over early despite the score.
More interesting from my seat near the Blazers bench was the absolute horrid body language from several players. They weren’t even close to connected and obviously had tuned out Nate McMillan and the Pacers’ former coach seemed to have had enough of the players, as well. Jamal Crawford and Raymond Felton in particular didn’t play once the game was out of hand and their act on the bench was less than impressive.
BUT...one guy on the Blazers bench stayed in it until the final buzzer. A young Canales continued to coach his ass off in the fourth quarter, pushing his guys on the court to continue working and executing and the Blazers bench guys did get the better of the Pacers in that fourth quarter.
The next night in New York, the Blazers lost to the Knicks by 42 (!) and it was no surprise that it was McMilllan’s last game. When I heard Canales was given the interim job by current Pacers exec, Chad Buchanan, my first reaction was, Hell, yeah, he deserved that chance.
After seeing Woj’s tweet this afternoon, my reaction was the same.