BJ Johnson

Nets Notes: Fernandez, Marks, Simmons, Whitehead, B. Johnson

At his introductory press conference on Wednesday, new Nets head coach Jordi Fernandez was optimistic about a quick turnaround following a disappointing 2023/24 season, writes Tim Bontemps of ESPN.

We will see results right away,” Fernandez said. “This industry is about getting results and getting better. So how much are you gonna get better? It’s how we believe the process is important.

We know that there’s proper steps to take and we’ll see improvement right away. But the most important thing to me is to believe in team success over personal success.”

Fernandez added that he was enthusiastic about the young talent on Brooklyn’s roster, per Brian Lewis of the New York Post.

The youth excites me,” Fernandez said. “When you have a young roster — and talented — that means you’re going to have those guys for a long time. So you can develop them, and then they can perform at their best, and they’re here with you. So that’s extremely exciting.”

Here’s more on the Nets:

  • General manager Sean Marks said one of the reasons Fernandez stood out in the Nets’ head coaching search was his ability to coach players at various stages of their careers, according to Lewis. “Something that separates Jordi from a lot of the candidates (is), we found that he could look at a developmental roster, he could do various different pathways,” Marks said. “He’s coached stars before, he’s been the head director of development before so he’s worn many hats and there’s no roster that he’s not going to be able to get the respect of those guys.” Marks noted that as a big market, Brooklyn has an inherent ability to attract stars, which could accelerate the team’s timeline.
  • Marks said the team expects Ben Simmons to be ready for training camp in the fall, as Adam Zagoria of relays (subscription required). “There should be no reason not to,” Marks said. “I mean, the doctors and therapists and so forth have told us that he should be ready to go next season. Again, it’s going to be on Ben’s timeline. We’re going to have to see how he progresses through the summer.” Simmons was limited to 15 games in ’23/24 and underwent his second back surgery in two years last month.
  • Another injured Net, Dariq Whitehead, should be ready to go for Summer League in a few months, Marks told reporters, including Lucas Kaplan of The 2023 first-round pick had season-ending surgery for a stress reaction in his left shin back in January.
  • They don’t currently control a draft pick in 2024, but Marks said the Nets could look to move into the draft if a player they like is available, Kaplan writes. Marks also suggested BJ Johnson, who is the team’s director of player evaluation, could be in line for a promotion after former front office executives Jeff Peterson and Ryan Gisriel left to join the Hornets. “I think some of our guys have done a terrific job,” Marks said, per Kaplan. “In terms of just simply drafting, I mean, you want to take BJ Johnson. BJ runs our draft and has done so for the last several years. So, there’ll be more pressure and more responsibility placed on several of the guys in-house here.”

Nets Hire Gianluca Pascucci, BJ Johnson

The Nets continue to reshape their front office under general manager Sean Marks, announcing today in a press release that they’ve added two more executives to their current group. Brooklyn has hired Gianluca Pascucci as the club’s director of global scouting, and BJ Johnson as coordinator of player evaluation.

“We are thrilled to add Gianluca and BJ to our front office,” Marks said in a statement. “Collectively, they bring valuable experiences that cross many platforms and their extensive knowledge of both the NBA and the global game will be tremendous assets to our scouting department. Both will be excellent additions to our culture and we are excited about welcoming them to Brooklyn.”

As Marks points out, the Nets’ new additions have basketball experience on a national and international level. Pascucci, who is coming off a stint as the Rockets’ VP of player personnel, and the GM of the D-League’s Rio Grande Valley Vipers, previously spent several years with Italian team Olimpia Milano, acting as the team’s CEO and GM. Pascucci also has a previous stint in Houston as the Rockets’ international scout.

As for Johnson, he has worked for the last several years as USA Basketball’s assistant men’s national team director, and has held a variety of other roles in both the men’s and women’s USA Basketball programs.

Marks has only been on the job in Brooklyn for about six months, having been hired in February as the Nets’ new general manager. However, he has made significant changes to the team’s front office during his time with the franchise. Per NetsDaily (via Twitter), today’s additions bring the total number of new staff members hired by the Nets since Marks’ arrival to 25.