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Jordi Fernandez, Sacramento Kings assistant, will become Brooklyn Nets head coach

Posted on April 16, 2024

The Brooklyn Nets have hired Jordi Fernandez, the 41-year Sacramento Kings assistant, as their next head coach. Adrian Wojnarowski broke the news late Monday night...

Woj went further in his story on the hire for ESPN, reporting that “Fernandez has emerged as the Brooklyn Nets’ choice to become the franchise’s next coach, separating himself amid a wide, month-long search that now has the Nets prepared to hire the Sacramento Kings’ top assistant.”

NetsDaily confirmed the Nets choice with a league source calling the Spanish native “a great fit who didn’t skip any steps” in his rise as a coach, with G League, international and NBA experience. Fernandez has extensive development experience and is seen as a defensive specialist. In the NBA’s annual GM survey, Fernandez was a clear winner as the league’s best assistant coach, garnering three times as many votes as the next two assistants.

In addition to his experience with the Kings where he’s been associate head coach under Mike Brown has also been an assistant the Nuggets under Mike Malone,

Indeed, it was his extensive and wide-ranging experience that helped win him the Brooklyn job. Fernandez has been an assistant and head coach of the Canton Charge, the Cleveland Cavaliers G League affiliate, an assistant coach with the Spanish and Nigerian national teams and most recently, head coach of the Canadian national team, leading the Canadians to the silver medal beating Team USA in the medal round. Among the NBA players on Team Canada: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, R.J. Barrett, Dillon Brooks, Kelly Olynyk and Dwight Powell. Fernandez was expected to coach the Canadian national team in this summer’s Olympics.

In fact, Fernandez has been coaching since age 15 when he started working in the youth setup of clubs like CB Sant Josep de Badalona and CB Sant Boi in Spain.

Woj reported that Sean Marks recommended Fernandez to Joe Tsai. Tsai then interviewed Fernandez, presumably the first weekend in April when the Kings were in New York for four days to play the Nets and Knicks and Tsai made what was seen as a rare visit to Barclays Center.

Two days ago, Shams Charania reported that Fernandez, Suns assistant Kevin Young and former Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer were “finalists” for the job, but the league source said then that the Nets had interest in other candidates beyond the coaches Shams identified. But Monday morning, Nic Claxton told reporters at the team’s exit interviews that he believed the Nets were closer to a choice than people believed.

“I think that’ll happen here sooner than later,” said Claxton, the Nets big free agent, adding, “I just want transparency. Somebody that’s going to keep it real with me, look at me as a man.”

Last August, Woj’s ESPN colleague, wrote that Fernandez had been interviewed by the Toronto Raptors and Milwaukee Bucks this year and was a finalist for the Phoenix Suns’ job, adding that Fernandez was “destined” for a head coaching job somewhere.

His reputation for relationship-building and his support system — he has been a trusted assistant to two-time NBA Coach of the Year Mike Brown and NBA champion Michael Malone of the Denver Nuggets — have gotten the attention of teams looking for head coaches.

“He’s going to be a head coach in the NBA,” Malone told ESPN. “He’s a people person who knows the game and has a great ability to communicate as well as build relationships with players.”

The Nets choice of a first time head coach will no doubt be criticized by some. Budenholzer was seen as a strong possibility even before Shams named him as a finalist, having worked with Marks in San Antonio and owning five NBA rings, four as an assistant to Gregg Popovich and one as head coach of the Milwaukee Bucks. Other than Budenholzer, none of the coaching candidates named by Shams had head coach experience.

Fernandez is known not just for his development work or his defensive focus, but also for a no-nonsense approach with players as shown by his initial meeting with the Kings Summer League team two years ago...

Brooklyn’s official announcement of Fernandez hire may be delayed by the NBA playoffs. Sacramento finished ninth in the Western Conference standings and will face the Golden State Warriors, 10th seed, in the play-in game Tuesday night in Sacramento.