Jordi Fernandez

Mike Brown Talks Kings, Fox, Sabonis, Monk, Murray

Second-year Kings head coach Mike Brown is aware that the club is heading into the 2023/24 season with serious expectations for the first time in a good long while. As the reigning Coach of the Year tells Mike Scotto of HoopsHype in an extensive new interview, his team is hoping to improve on last season’s 48-34 record. Sacramento did secure the West’s No. 3 seed, but was ousted in a seven-game, first-round playoff slugfest by the Warriors.

“We’re a good team,” Brown said. “We established that narrative with our play last year and our connectivity and work throughout the summer. Now, we’ve got to continue building on that. We’ve got to go from good to great. Our expectations aren’t just to make the playoffs again. We know that’s who we are. Our expectations are to go from good to great and be an NBA champion, just like every other team out there, that’s competing as hard as we feel like we’re going to compete this year.”

The whole conversation is well worth reading in full. Below are just a few key highlights.

On winning his second Coach of the Year award in 2023:

“The reality to me is I have a fantastic staff, and you appreciate their work. At the end of the day, I recognize greatness, and I truly mean that our players stepped up, and everybody in the organization did too. I’m not just talking about my coaching staff. I have at least four or five guys on my staff right now who are ready to be head coaches. I’ve been saying that. I’ve tried to tell people about Jordi Fernandez. Others on my staff are ready to be head coaches right now.”

“I recognize how blessed, fortunate, and lucky I am to have not just a great coaching staff but a great medical staff, and a great performance and conditioning staff. I love the guys in the front office, ticket sales, community relations, and (COO) Matina Kolokotronis. To see the vertical and horizontal levels of trust we have with all the levels in the organization, in my opinion, showed itself in the best possible way with me being named the unanimous Coach of the Year because I know I didn’t do it by myself.”

On the chemistry between All-Stars De’Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis:

“Those two guys have to continue taking leaps forward, but part of the reason why we brought so many guys back is because I firmly believe in order to have a winning culture at the highest level, you have to have a core of guys that you believe in and are able to play together year after year so that connectivity can grow to an insurmountable level. This is our first year of trying to bring our guys back to establish that core, so that means everybody we bring back has to elevate their game. Keegan Murray, Kevin Huerter and Harrison Barnes all have to elevate their game, especially knowing the way we like to play on both ends of the floor.”

On Malik Monk‘s shot at Sixth Man of the Year honors:

“He has a chance. Malik Monk is one of the most talented guys I’ve been around. He’s not 6-foot-7, but if he was, he’d be All-NBA. He’s that talented. It’s going to be up to him what he wants to be. I thought last year, coming in, his work ethic and his focus were pretty good. Just like how everyone else can help us improve internally to help us become a better team, Malik can, too. His talent level is there. Now, he’s got to be locked in 24/7, 365 days a year, when it comes to hoops. If he is, and he doesn’t take anything for granted, he’s in great shape and locked in by playing every possession, the sky’s the limit for him. He can shoot the three. He’s got a medium (mid-range) game. He’s one of the best I’ve seen in pick-and-rolls.”

On the growth of second-year forward Keegan Murray:

“If you think about it, last year, the way we played with our pace and our body and ball movement, he got a lot of his shots off the catch-and-shoot. Now, we expect Keegan to bring the ball up if he gets a rebound and initiate the offense, be a little selfish, and go get his shot, which you saw a couple of times throughout the preseason and when he played in Kings Summer League action in Sacramento. Not only that, but offensive rebounding. He’s worked hard on his body. Defensively, don’t get bullied… Be able to guard the ball in pick-and-roll situations. These are some areas, like going to get shots off the bounce that Keegan worked on that we’ve been fortunate to see throughout the offseason. Now, we expect him to do that come game time.”

NBA GMs Like Celtics’ Offseason Moves, Title Chances

The Celtics and Bucks made the best overall moves this offseason, according to the NBA’s general managers. In his annual survey of the league’s top basketball decision-makers, John Schuhmann of writes that 23% picked Boston as having the best summer, while another 23% picked Milwaukee. The Trail Blazers (17%) and Lakers (13%) were among the other clubs who received multiple votes.

Of course, the Celtics’ and Bucks’ pre-camp trades for Jrue Holiday and Damian Lillard, respectively, were huge factors in the positive perception of their offseasons. Of Schuhmann’s GM respondents, 47% said the Lillard acquisition was the most impactful move of the offseason, while Boston’s addition of Holiday placed second at 13% (the Celtics’ trade for Kristaps Porzingis tied for fourth, at 7%).

Both Boston and Milwaukee are viewed by the league’s general managers as good bets to compete for the title in 2024. The Celtics were selected by 33% of Schuhmann’s respondents as the team that will win the championship the season, while the Bucks got 23% of the vote share. No other Eastern club received a vote, with the Nuggets (33%), Suns (7%), and Clippers (3%) representing the only other teams that were chosen as potential champs.

Here are a few more interesting results from Schuhmann’s GM survey, which is worth checking out in full:

  • As much as the NBA’s general managers like Boston’s roster, it was the Grizzlies‘ acquisition of Marcus Smart from Boston that was voted as the most underrated player addition of the summer (17%), narrowly edging out the Mavericks‘ sign-and-trade for Grant Williams (14%).
  • The NBA’s GMs are high on the Thunder. Oklahoma City was the runaway winner as the team with the league’s most promising young core (73%) and also earned the most votes for which club will be most improved in 2023/24 (30%).
  • Spurs rookie Victor Wembanyama got plenty of love from the league’s GMs. He was the top choice for Rookie of the Year (50%) and was the overwhelming pick for which rookie will be the best player in five years (90%). He also placed second among the players Schuhmann’s respondents would most want to start a franchise with today, with his 23% vote share trailing only Nikola Jokic‘s 33%.
  • NBA GMs expect Ime Udoka of the Rockets to be the head coach that has the biggest impact on his new team (57%), followed by Monty Williams of the Pistons (17%).
  • Jordi Fernandez of the Kings, viewed as a future NBA head coach, comfortably won the vote on the league’s best assistant (31%).
  • The NBA’s GMs consider Timberwolves guard Anthony Edwards (23%), Pistons guard Cade Cunningham (20%), and Magic forward Franz Wagner (13%) the top candidates for a breakout year.
  • Which rookie was the biggest steal in the 2023 draft? Rockets wing Cam Whitmore (43%) was the top choice, with Jazz guard Keyonte George, Trail Blazers guard Scoot Henderson, and Heat forward Jaime Jaquez each receiving 10% of the vote.

Pacific Notes: Curry, LeBron, Eubanks, Fernandez

Asked on Gilbert Arenas’ podcast last week about how long he’ll play in the NBA and whether he envisions himself emulating LeBron James‘ longevity, Warriors star Stephen Curry agreed that he could end up “somewhere in that range.” James will turn 39 in December and is entering his 21st season, whereas Curry is entering his 15th season at age 35.

“I never imagined myself being the 40-plus dude trying to hold on for dear life,” Curry said, per Jordan Elliott of NBC Sports Bay Area. “But who knows what my body will look like or feel like at that point? I got three years left on my deal, including at least that, and then kind of figure it out from there. … I don’t put too much of a timeline outside of my contract now just knowing that will give me 38 and 17 years in the league. I ain’t skipping out to go play golf just yet.”

Regardless of how many years he ends up playing, Curry’s expectation at this point is that he’ll remain with the Warriors for the remainder of his career.

“I am blessed to know and hope that no matter how many years I do play, [I’ll be] playing for one franchise and being a part of that group of the legends that have accomplished that feat and won at the highest level and all that,” he said. “I don’t ever take that for granted either. You got the Kobe [Bryant]’s, the Magic [Johnson]’s, Dirk [Nowitzki], Tim Duncan, those guys helped establish a culture, won, did it with a lot of different roster combinations and different parts in their career.”

Here’s more from around the Pacific:

  • Former NBA head coach Byron Scott expects LeBron James to surpass 40,000 career points and believes LeBron’s career scoring record will be extremely difficult to top. “I don’t think that’s going to be broken, especially in our lifetime,” Scott told Brandon “Scoop B” Robinson (YouTube link; hat tip to HoopsHype). The Lakers forward needs just 1,348 more points to reach 40,000 — he has fallen short of that figure in just one of his 20 NBA seasons (he scored 1,126 in 45 games in 2020/21).
  • In the second part of his interview with Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic (subscriber link), Suns big man Drew Eubanks discussed his preparation for the season, why he views himself as more of a center than a power forward, and the role he expects to play for his new team. “I’m not going to have as much responsibility on the offensive end as it will be on the defensive end,” Eubanks said. “Like I said, we have three elite scorers. … Really where my mark is going to be made is getting them open, rebounding, defending, blocking shots.” We previously passed along some highlights from the first part of Eubanks’ conversation with Rankin.
  • No World Cup team has registered a better point differential through three games than Canada (+111). The work Kings associate head coach Jordi Fernandez is doing with the Canadian national team is further strengthening his case to become an NBA head coach, which is expected to happen sooner or later, according to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst.

International Notes: Fernandez, Canada, Paris, Almansa, More

Kings associate head coach Jordi Fernandez will replace Nick Nurse of the Sixers as the head coach of the Canadian national team, sources tell Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

Canada Basketball has officially confirmed the news, indicating in a press release that the leadership change will take place immediately. Nurse, who coached the Raptors – Canada’s only NBA team – for five seasons before being dismissed this spring, subsequently stepped down from his position with the national team. Fernandez will take the reins for the 2023 World Cup, which begins in less than two months.

Fernandez, who was born in Spain, was an assistant coach on the Nuggets’ staff from 2016-22 before joining the Kings under Mike Brown last year. He’s considered a rising head coaching candidate, having interviewed for the coaching vacancies in Phoenix and Toronto earlier in the offseason.

Here are a few more updates from around the international basketball world:

  • After playing a regular season game in France in 2020 and again in 2023, the NBA is on track to return to Paris in 2024, according to a report from L’Equipe, which states that the Nets and Cavaliers are the teams expected to compete in that game. There’s hope that French phenom Victor Wembanyama and the Spurs will play a game in Paris as soon as 2025, per L’Equipe.
  • Izan Almansa, a 6’10” Spanish big man who spent the last two years with Overtime Elite and projects to be a first-round pick in 2024, has signed with the G League Ignite, reports Jonathan Givony of ESPN. Almansa, the last prospect to join the Ignite for 2023/24, will be part of a star-studded group that includes potential top-five picks Ron Holland and Matas Buzelis.
  • Gianni Petrucci, the president of the Italian Basketball Federation, wasn’t thrilled by Paolo Banchero‘s decision to play for the United States instead of Italy at the upcoming World Cup, telling La Gazzetta dello Sport that the Magic forward “fooled us.” However, Petrucci clarified that he was more upset about a lack of communication from Banchero rather than the decision itself. “It was a legitimate decision, but he could have made a call to communicate that to us,” Petrucci said, per “Instead, we learned about his decision from the newspapers.”
  • German forward Louis Olinde, who has spent the past three seasons with Alba Berlin, is hoping to make the move to the NBA this offseason, writes Donatas Urbonas of According to Urbonas, Olinde has worked out for the Warriors and Thunder and has a session lined up with the Trail Blazers too. The 25-year-old is also expected to play for the Suns at the Las Vegas Summer League.

Atlantic Notes: Brown, Mitchell, Raptors, Niang, Nurse

Having made the All-NBA Second Team this year, Celtics All-Star Jaylen Brown is eligible for a five-year, $290MM super-max contract extension. According to Steve Bulpett of, Hall of Famer Isiah Thomas, a longtime Brown advisor, has some pointed advice for the young star.

“Take the money,” Thomas said. “He’s had a great career there, and he’s become one of the best players in the league. They’ve done well, and he’s done well there. It’s been a win-win, I think, for him and for the Celtics.”

Thomas went on to suggest that the departure of 2021/22 head coach Ime Udoka and lead assistants Will Hardy and Damon Stoudamire seems to have had an adverse influence on Brown, who had an uneven performance in the 2023 playoffs.

“Hey, I don’t care how talented your team is, when half of your coaching staff walks out of the door, that’s going to affect you,” he said. “That’s just how it goes. You lose your head coach and your top two assistants, you’re going to be impacted by that.”

There’s more out of the Atlantic Division:

  • The Knicks may still pursue a trade for Cavaliers shooting guard Donovan Mitchell at some point, writes Peter Botte of The New York Post. Botte notes that New York team president Leon Rose will likely explore other options when it comes to trying to trade for a superstar this summer, but that Mitchell, a native New Yorker, could remain a target down the line. The Knicks eliminated Mitchell’s higher-seeded Cavaliers in a five-game first round playoff series.
  • Sixers forward Georges Niang offered up a rave review for Philadelphia’s new head coach Nick Nurse on ESPN’s Hoop Collective podcast (YouTube video link). “Obviously (the Sixers are) bringing in a guy that is a basketball savant,” Niang said (h/t to Kyle Neubeck of The Philly Voice for the transcription). “He knows how to junk up games, he knows how to draw ATOs, run offense, and then junk defenses, how to play defense, he’s done a great job. His Toronto teams were always tough to guard, and they were always tough to score against. So I was extremely pleased to see that they hired him and see they’re moving in that direction.” Niang, an unrestricted free agent this summer, clearly still seems interested in the future his current club.
  • The Raptors are currently the lone team still in the market for a new head coach. Per Marc Stein, Toronto nixed plans for a second face-to-face conversation with Virtus Bologna head coach Sergio Scariolo due to his team’s continued presence in the Lega Basket Serie A finals. Scariolo could be out of commission until June 23 if the series lasts seven games. The Raptors had hoped to have a new head coach in place in time for June 22’s NBA draft. According to Stein, there’s speculation in league circles that Scariolo could have something of an edge for the job, while others believe Warriors assistant coach Kenny Atkinson is the favorite. Grizzlies assistant Darko Rajakovic is considered the third favorite, per Stein, with all three gaining separation from Kings assistant Jordi Fernandez.

Atlantic Notes: Harden, Nash, Fernandez, Raptors’ Draft, Simmons

James Harden‘s free agency will likely come down to re-signing with the Sixers or signing up for a second stint with the Rockets, Shams Charania of The Athletic said on the Ryen Russillo podcast (hat tip to RealGM). Harden is expected to decline his $35.64MM option.

“I really think he’s torn with the prospect of staying in Philadelphia or moving on to Houston potentially and returning back to his home,” Charania said. “That’s where his roots are and his family there, of course. They (the Rockets) have got upwards of $60 million (in cap space). They can make even more money available. Close to $70 million in cap space.”

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • As of Monday, neither former Nets coach Steve Nash nor Kings associate head coach Jordi Fernandez had been invited for a second interview for the Raptors head coaching job, according to Doug Smith of the Toronto Star. However, the front office is taking its time on hiring Nick Nurse’s replacement, so they could eventually be called in for another interview. There’s no immediate need to fill the position, since assistant GM and VP of player personnel Dan Tolzman and his staff are handling draft preparations.
  • Speaking of the Raptors’ draft, they hold the No. 13 pick in the first round. Eric Koreen of The Athletic discusses a handful of candidates they could consider at that spot, with Michigan’s Kobe Bufkin and Kansas’ Gradey Dick viewed as the best fits if they’re still available, since the shooting guard position is in flux.
  • The Nets’ Ben Simmons posted a couple of workout images on social media, indicating that he has moved from rehab and recovery to getting back on the court, Nets Daily relays. Simmons didn’t play after Feb. 15 due to a nerve impingement in his back. He could be added to Australia’s roster for the FIBA World Cup if he’s healthy enough to play later this summer.

Kenny Atkinson A Finalist For Raptors’ Coaching Job?

Kenny Atkinson, who is currently an assistant coach with the Warriors, recently traveled to Toronto for an in-person interview for the Raptors‘ head coaching job, reports Marc Stein at Substack.

A longtime NBA assistant who has spent time with the Knicks, Hawks and Clippers, Atkinson was the head coach of the Nets from 2016-20, accruing a 118-190 record (.383) over parts of four seasons. He has been with the Warriors for the past two seasons.

The Nets improved their win total in each of Atkinson’s first three seasons, making the playoffs in ’18/19. Known as a player development guru, the 55-year-old had a verbal agreement to become Charlotte’s head coach last offseason, but backed out of the arrangement before it was finalized, citing family considerations as a factor in his decision.

Atkinson was a finalist for Milwaukee’s coaching vacancy, which ultimately went to Adrian Griffin, and also interviewed or was expected to interview this spring for the previous openings in Houston and Phoenix.

The Raptors have been very secretive about their search for a new lead coach this offseason after dismissing Nick Nurse. However, they are reportedly in the final stages of interviews and are expected to hire a new coach relatively soon.

According to Stein, since Atkinson interviewed at this juncture, he’s believed to join a group of finalists that includes Virtus Bologna head coach Sergio Scariolo, Kings associate head coach Jordi Fernandez, and Grizzlies assistant Darko Rajakovic. Sources tell Stein that Scariolo’s second interview was set for “as early as Monday,” though it isn’t clear if he’ll be traveling to Toronto, since his Italian team is about to begin its championship series Friday.

As Stein writes, there’s no real consensus about which coach the Raptors might favor. Some view Scariolo as the frontrunner due to his ties to the organization, having served as an assistant under Nurse for three seasons, but Stein hears Fernandez is also a “name to watch.”

Coaching Rumors: Raptors, Suns, Fizdale, Jack, Pistons, Jazz

The Raptors are now the only NBA team conducting an active head coaching search and shouldn’t face any real competition for any targets on their wish list. However, that doesn’t mean they’ll be content to have their search drag on for a few more weeks.

According to Josh Lewenberg of (Twitter link), the Raptors have scheduled their final round of interviews for this weekend and are expected to make a decision soon on Nick Nurse‘s replacement.

While specific groups of finalists were reported for certain head coaching searches in recent weeks, the Raptors have been pretty tight-lipped throughout their process, so we don’t have a clear picture of which candidates remain in the mix.

Lewenberg confirms that Sergio Scariolo is believed to be a finalist, as previously reported, and says Kings assistant Jordi Fernandez seems to still be in the running too. A separate report this week indicated that the Raptors also continue to consider Grizzlies assistant Darko Rajakovic, but there may well be other finalists besides those three men.

Here are a few more coaching-related notes and rumors from around the NBA:

  • Plugged-in local reporter John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 (Twitter link) identifies veteran coach David Fizdale as a prime candidate to watch for one of the top spots on Frank Vogel‘s new Suns coaching staff.
  • Former NBA point guard Jarrett Jack, who was an assistant under Monty Williams with the Suns for the last two seasons, is believed to be a “priority” for Williams’ new staff with the Pistons, tweets Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports.
  • Former Marquette head coach Steve Wojciechowski will take over as the head coach of the Salt Lake City Stars, the Jazz’s G League affiliate, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. The team issued a press release officially confirming the hiring. Former Stars head coach Scott Morrison will take a spot on Will Hardy‘s staff in Utah next season, as previously reported.

Suns Down To Three Head Coaching Finalists

The Suns have narrowed their head coaching search to three finalists, according to John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7, who reports that Doc Rivers, Frank Vogel, and Kevin Young are still in contention.

Reporting a week ago indicated that Phoenix was advancing to the final stage of its process with five candidates still in play. Since then, one of those candidates – Nick Nurse – has reportedly accepted another job, having agreed to coach the Sixers.

Based on Gambadoro’s reporting, it appears the fifth candidate, Kings assistant Jordi Fernandez, is no longer receiving consideration from the Suns. Fernandez is still believed to be in the running for the Raptors’ head coaching vacancy, but Phoenix will apparently decide between Rivers, Vogel, and Young.

An assistant coach on Monty Williams‘ staff since 2020, Young reportedly has some support within the organization to receive a promotion to replace Williams, including an endorsement from star guard Devin Booker. However, he’s the only one of Phoenix’s three remaining finalists without any previous head coaching experience.

Rivers has won a total of 1,860 regular season games and 111 playoff contests with four NBA franchises since 1999, while Vogel has coached three teams since 2010, compiling 820 regular season victories and 49 more in the postseason.

According to Gambadoro, the Suns could finalize a head coaching hire later this week.

Stein’s Latest: Irving, Russell, Wizards, M. Williams, Raptors

If the Lakers opt to pursue Kyrie Irving in free agency, the Mavericks wouldn’t be interested in taking back free agent guard D’Angelo Russell as the primary player in a sign-and-trade deal, Marc Stein reports in his latest Substack column.

There hasn’t been any concrete information that trying to sign Irving is part of the Lakers’ offseason plans, Stein adds, but there’s plenty of speculation that LeBron James would like to reunite with his former Cavaliers teammate. L.A. was heavily rumored as a possible destination for Irving when he considered opting out of his contract last summer and again when he asked the Nets for a trade in February.

James’ retirement talk after being swept by Denver is widely seen as a message to the Lakers’ front office that a roster upgrade is needed, but Stein isn’t convinced that they’ll be active on the free agent market. He states that the team’s preferred plan is to reach new deals with two of its own free agents, Austin Reaves and Rui Hachimura. It’s less certain that L.A. wants to keep Russell after his disastrous performance in the Western Conference Finals, Stein adds.

The Mavericks appear committed to keeping Irving after paying a high price to acquire him from Brooklyn, according to Stein. A report last weekend indicated that a “handshake deal” may already be in place for Irving to remain in Dallas.

Stein passes along more inside information:

  • Teams around the league are expecting new Wizards president Michael Winger to be aggressive in trying to reshape the roster this summer, but Bradley Beal‘s no-trade clause may complicate his plans. Stein points out that Beal has four seasons left on his five-year, $251MM contract and can’t be sent to any other team unless he agrees to the deal. Stein also wonders how the front office change will affect Kristaps Porzingis, who reportedly began extension talks in March.
  • Kevin Ollie and Charles Lee were set for second interviews this week for the Pistons‘ head coaching vacancy, but Stein hears that the team hasn’t given up on its pursuit of Monty Williams. The former Suns head coach reportedly turned down a “big-money” offer from Detroit, but some members of the organization are hoping he might reconsider.
  • A source tells Stein that Kings associate head coach Jordi Fernandez is a legitimate candidate to become the Raptors‘ new head coach.