Kevin Ollie

Budenholzer, Fernandez, Young Finalists For Nets’ Coaching Job

Mike Budenholzer, Kings assistant Jordi Fernandez, and Suns assistant Kevin Young are finalists for the Nets‘ head coaching job, sources tell Shams Charania of The Athletic.

The Nets, who parted ways with Jacque Vaughn in February and replaced him with interim head coach Kevin Ollie, opted not to wait for the end of the season to begin their head coaching search. NetsDaily reported earlier today (Twitter link) that Brooklyn’s search process has been ongoing for more than a month and is believed to have been “extensive,” which Charania confirms.

According to Charania, Ollie received consideration for the permanent job, as did several other outside candidates, including Heat assistant Chris Quinn and Pelicans assistant James Borrego.

However, the franchise appears to have zeroed in on Budenholzer, Fernandez, and Young as its finalists. Sources tell The Athletic that team owner Joe Tsai will hold in-person meetings with all three candidates, with a final decision to be made sometime in the not-too-distant future.

A two-time Coach of the Year, Budenholzer compiled a 484-317 (.604) regular season record across 10 seasons as an NBA head coach from 2013-23 — five in Atlanta and five in Milwaukee. He also owns a 56-48 (.538) overall postseason record and won a championship with the Bucks in 2021. Budenholzer was an assistant in San Antonio when Nets general manager Sean Marks joined the Spurs’ front office in 2012.

Fernandez, who technically holds the title of associate head coach on Mike Brown‘s staff in Sacramento, served as an assistant in Denver from 2016-22 before making the move to the Kings. He has long been considered a future NBA head coach and led the Canadian national team to a bronze medal at the 2023 FIBA World Cup. He’ll coach the Canadians at this summer’s Olympics in Paris.

Young is another veteran assistant who has been promoted to associate head coach and has received NBA head coaching consideration in recent years. He reportedly interviewed with the Rockets, Bucks, Raptors, and Suns a year ago. Young was an assistant with the Sixers from 2016-20 before spending the last four seasons in Phoenix.

The Nets are one of three teams in the market for a permanent head coach, along with the Hornets and Wizards.

Sean Marks To Return As Nets’ GM In 2024/25

A couple months ago, there was some speculation that Sean Marks‘ job with the Nets might be in jeopardy amid a disappointing 2023/24 season which saw the team dismiss former head coach Jacque Vaughn.

At one point in mid-December, the Nets were 13-10. After Friday’s loss to the Knicks, they’re now 32-49 with one game left in the regular season.

However, according to Brian Lewis of The New York Post, Marks will return as Brooklyn’s general manager next season. Multiple league sources tell Lewis that Marks will be in charge of hiring a new head coach, with the team expected to “cast a wide net” in its search.

(Owner) Joe (Tsai) and I have always been in complete partnership,” Marks said in February. “And it doesn’t mean we always agree. I mean, you have to have good discussions and robust discussions, but Joe and I will make this decision, and he has given me no reason to believe that I won’t be able to make that decision.

By the end of this I have no doubt that we’ll come and find the best person fit for this job.

Marks has been Brooklyn’s GM since 2016. The Nets had made the playoffs each of the past five seasons prior to ’23/24, but were quickly eliminated in the first round on four of those occasions.

Interim head coach Kevin Ollie is expected to receive consideration for the permanent position. The Nets have gone 11-17 under Ollie, a longtime former NBA player who took over for Vaughn a couple months ago.

Yeah, I’m the interim, so I’ve got to find out if I’m keeping the job first,” Ollie replied recently to a question from The Post about his status. “We’re going to have some exit meetings here shortly, probably Monday or Tuesday and then we’ll talk. I’ll talk with Sean, our medical staff.

We do everything as an organization, we do everything as a community. We make sure we have the same voice, surround-sound system with our players, making sure we’re saying the same things. So we’ll have those talks.”

Nets Notes: Thomas, Simmons, Ollie, Offense

Nets guard Cam Thomas was forced to exit Monday’s game early due to a right ankle sprain and has been ruled out for Tuesday’s contest in Orlando, but he said that he doesn’t think this injury is as significant as the one that cost him nearly a month earlier in the season, per Brian Lewis of The New York Post.

“That’s the way it feels, less severe,” said Thomas, who missed nine games in November due to a left ankle sprain. “I should be fine.”

According to Chris Haynes of Bleacher Report and TNT (Twitter link), Thomas underwent an X-ray on the injured ankle on Monday night and the results came back negative.

“Yeah, I mean I’m able to walk on it, so it’s not bad,” Thomas said. “We’ll take it day by day. But it’s not as bad as last time, so I’m not really concerned.”

Here’s more on the Nets:

  • As expected, Ben Simmons has been ruled out for Tuesday’s game vs. the Magic due to left lower back injury maintenance, tweets Lewis. Simmons didn’t suffer a setback in his 14 minutes of action on Monday, but hasn’t yet been cleared to play both ends of back-to-back sets. “I think I’m getting closer,” Simmons said on Monday. “So hopefully (soon).”
  • Kevin Ollie earned his first win as the Nets’ head coach on Monday, as Brooklyn registered a 111-86 victory over the Grizzlies.“Yeah, I got the game ball. It’ll go in my office first. Definitely gonna touch it and put it up for my mom in heaven and my sister in heaven,” Ollie said after the win, according to Lewis. “I know they were watching over me in this first win. So definitely gonna raise it up and toast to them.” Ollie replaced Jacque Vaughn over the All-Star break and lost his first two games as the Nets’ interim head coach.
  • Prior to Monday’s game, the Nets’ 105.5 offensive rating in February was tied for the worst mark in the NBA. However, as Lewis details for The New York Post, Ollie was confident that Brooklyn’s recent offensive struggles were more about players missing shots they’d normally make rather than a fundamental issue with the team’s system. “It’s just still understanding each other’s strengths,” Ollie said after Saturday’s loss in Minnesota. “… The offense was giving us great looks. I mean, (Cameron Johnson) missed a couple of them, perfect plays and perfect ball movement, peel and play, which just is what we want. So we’ve just got to make sure that we make those shots, and I think it’ll turn around.” The Nets scored 119.4 points per 100 possessions in Monday’s win.

New York Notes: Bridges, Ollie, Hart, Randle, Anunoby

The Nets resisted opportunities to trade Mikal Bridges at the deadline and they still view him as a cornerstone of the franchise, sources tell Tim Bontemps of ESPN. Bridges is seen as a potential All-Star with a team-friendly contract that will pay him $23.3M next season and $24.9MM in 2025/26.

Bridges is also considered a strong recruiter who can help bring more talent to Brooklyn, Bontemps adds. Besides Bridges, only Cameron Johnson and Dorian Finney-Smith are signed beyond next season, giving the Nets potentially more than $70MM to chase a 2025 free agent class that could include Donovan MitchellBrandon IngramRudy GobertLauri Markkanen and Jimmy Butler.

The Nets have slumped badly after a 15-15 start and have the second-worst record in the league since December 27. Still, Bridges told Bontemps that he believes in the organization “100%” and has no desire to go anywhere else.

“Things ain’t going good right now, and that’s life,” he said. “… I know a lot of people might think about different situations and teams, and obviously I got my boys (from Villanova) over there in New York and stuff, so obviously everybody goes with that. But I was never the type of guy to (want to leave when) things get tough and it’s time to cry out and get out.”

There’s more from New York City:

  • Brian Lewis of The New York Post traces Kevin Ollie‘s journey to his first NBA head coaching job. Ollie, who was named the Nets‘ interim coach when Jacque Vaughn was dismissed on Monday, had the makings of a coach back in college, according to former Connecticut mentor Jim Calhoun. “It’ll be no question that if you don’t put good effort in — I have no idea what his verbal responses will be — I do know that you’ll probably be sitting beside him,” Calhoun said. “There’s going to be purpose and work, because that’s how he played and that’s how he coached for us at UConn.”
  • Josh Hart may complain about what he’s asked to do, but he has been one of the Knicks‘ most reliable players, observes Stefan Bondy of The New York Post. Hart has said publicly that he would prefer a larger role in the offense, but he keeps providing the intangibles the team needs, including a strong defensive presence and constant effort, while missing just one game all season. “I think he just talks the talk, if that makes sense,” Jalen Brunson said. “He’s like a — I’m going to be nice — he says whatever he wants to say, but when he goes out there, when it’s time to compete, it doesn’t matter who or what is in front of him.”  
  • Knicks forward Julius Randle is still determined to return from his dislocated right shoulder before the end of the season, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski said Saturday on NBA Countdown (video link). However, Wojnarowski cautioned that Randle’s situation remains “fluid” as no decision has been made regarding surgery. Woj adds that OG Anunoby is “right on schedule” following a recent procedure on his right elbow and will be reevaluated at the end of next week.

Atlantic Notes: Ollie, Thomas, Beverley, Lowry, Raptors

Kevin Ollie will offer some strategic changes when he makes his debut as head coach of the Nets tonight in Toronto, but he’s focused mainly on bringing a new attitude to the team, writes Brian Lewis of The New York Post. Ollie, who came to Brooklyn as an assistant at the start of the season, was promoted to the job on an interim basis after Jacque Vaughn was fired Monday.

“The biggest thing is playing for each other and making the right plays,” Ollie said. “Not being selfish, getting the ball to the guys that we need to get the ball to in their right spots where they can be very successful. Just playing the right way, and we need to do that more consistently. So that’s not a scheme change or anything, that’s just playing better basketball, doing simple better.”

Ollie is expected to emphasize better spacing on offense, Lewis adds. That has been a problem, especially in the limited time that Ben Simmons and Nic Claxton have been on the court together. Lewis notes that Brooklyn is minus-34 and is shooting just 42.6% as a team in the duo’s 69 total minutes this season.

“You have to be able to space, you have to be able to cut, you have to be able to play together. We have to get out and rebound and get stops so they can play with pace and play in transition offense,” Ollie said. “So all those things count. But when it gets bogged down in a half-court situation, we haven’t had that situation where one’s up, one’s down and how they play off each other is crucial. So that’s why it’s so good for practice time.”

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • With Ollie in charge of the Nets, Cam Thomas should get a fresh chance to prove that he’s worthy of a starting role, Lewis states in a separate story. The explosive guard is averaging 21.2 PPG, but Vaughn often limited his playing time due to concerns about defense and energy. Thomas thought the report of a coaching change was a prank when he read about it on the internet, and he didn’t believe the story until general manager Sean Marks confirmed it. “We didn’t get enough wins. … And [we were] dropping some games, not playing as hard,” Thomas said. “It’s on both parties, coaches, players, front office, everybody. Got to look at yourself in the mirror; so that’s just what we got to do.”
  • Patrick Beverley has been taking shots at his former team on his podcast since being traded to Milwaukee, but the Sixers are choosing to ignore them, according to Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Coach Nick Nurse and Kyle Lowry, who’s taking over Beverley’s role in Philadelphia, have been among the targets. “I’m not a podcast watcher, but he’s a friend of mine and that’s his competitive nature,” Lowry said. “I’m looking forward to the opportunity to play against him, as always.”
  • Eric Koreen of The Athletic looks at late-season storylines to watch for the Raptors, including whether tanking will be an option, the roles for RJ Barrett and Immanuel Quickley, and which players will show that they should be re-signed this summer.

Nets Notes: Vaughn, Ollie, Marks, Bridges, Budenholzer

Speaking on Tuesday to reporters, including ESPN’s Tim Bontemps, Nets general manager Sean Marks said there wasn’t a single event or game that made the team decide to fire head coach Jacque Vaughn. While some Brooklyn players expressed frustration following a December 27 loss in which the team sat several regulars, as well as after last Wednesday’s 50-point blowout loss in Boston, Marks pointed to a general lack of energy and effort when asked for specifics on what went into the decision to dismiss Vaughn.

“It’s about the level of compete,” Marks said. “We’re not going to be the most talented team in the league. I’m not an idiot. I totally understand that. But at the same time, this is a talented group of young men out there. And my expectations, and I think their expectations, should be to hold each other accountable to do the little things. The effort plays, the loose balls, the contested shots and so forth, diving on the floor.

“These are things that should be expected when you’re in a place that we’re at right now, where we’re clawing and grappling for every single thing we can. That’s what I would hope to see over these next 28 games, and that’s probably, to be quite frank, some things I haven’t seen. The level of effort and the level of compete has not always been there.”

New interim head coach Kevin Ollie made that lack of energy and hustle a focus in his first practice with the club on Tuesday, as Bontemps details. Ollie pointed out that the Nets don’t recover enough loose balls or draw enough charges, referring to the team’s poor numbers in those categories as “losing basketball.”

“I got something called EGBs, which is energy generating behaviors, and it’s 17 behaviors of those things. And we went through the list extensively today,” Ollie said on Tuesday. “(They) have nothing to do with talent but everything to do with heart and will. And I think that’s what it comes down to.

“Remember, I played 15 years professionally, 13 years in this league, and never once (had) a coach call a play for me. I had to get it with grit. I had to get it with determination. I had to get it with a mindset that we’re going to get better each and every day. That’s how I coach, that’s what I’m going to demand. I want them to demand that from me, and that’s from day one.”

Here’s more on the Nets:

  • Marks is under contract beyond this season, sources tell Ian Begley of, and the veteran Nets executive has a close relationship with team owner Joe Tsai. Marks told reporters on Tuesday that he has been given no indication Tsai won’t keep him around to run the team’s latest head coaching search this spring. “Joe and I have always been in complete partnership,” Marks said, per Bontemps. “And it doesn’t mean we always agree. I mean, you have to have good discussions and robust discussions, but Joe and I will make this decision, and he has given me no reason to believe that I won’t be able to make that decision.”
  • Still, Marks’ future with the Nets has been a subject of speculation around the NBA, Michael Scotto of HoopsHype said on the HoopsHype podcast with Brian Lewis of The New York Post. According to Scotto, in the event that Marks remains in Brooklyn, one possibility floated in league circles is a scenario in which the Nets promote assistant general manager Jeff Peterson to GM and give him more day-to-day responsibilities while Marks stays above him in the front office hierarchy.
  • Scotto and Lewis discussed many more Nets-related topics in the HoopsHype podcast, including the futures of players like Nic Claxton, Cam Thomas, and Ben Simmons in Brooklyn, Scotto also said there were rumblings that certain players – including Mikal Bridges and former Net Spencer Dinwiddie – weren’t thrilled by the fact that Vaughn’s offensive game plan focused so heavily on Simmons, who hasn’t been healthy for most of his time in Brooklyn.
  • Bridges said on Tuesday that he wants to remain in Brooklyn long-term, per Dan Martin of The New York Post. “I’m here now and want to stay here,” Bridges said. “And I’m going to keep grinding and getting to wherever we’ve got to get to win, and that’s why I’m here for.” The Nets turned away trade inquiries this season on Bridges and their goal is to ultimately acquire a star or two to play alongside him, per Scotto.
  • In a pair of stories for The New York Post, Mike Vaccaro wonders what it will take for the Nets to move on from Marks, while Zach Braziller identifies several potential candidates for Brooklyn’s permanent head coaching job. That list begins with Mike Budenholzer, whose name is “at the tip of everyone’s tongue” in discussing possible candidates, according to Scotto.

Nets Name Kevin Ollie Interim Head Coach

FEBRUARY 20: The Nets have made it official, announcing (via Twitter) that Ollie is their interim head coach.

According to Charania (Twitter video link), while Ollie may receive consideration for the permanent job, Brooklyn will conduct a “full-blown” search this spring.

FEBRUARY 19: The Nets plan to name Kevin Ollie as their interim head coach in the wake of Jacque Vaughn‘s dismissal, sources tell ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link).

According to Woj, Ollie will run Tuesday’s practice and will be the lead coach for Thursday’s contest against Toronto.

Separate reports earlier this afternoon from Shams Charania of The Athletic and Wojnarowski indicated that Ollie had emerged as the frontrunner to become Brooklyn’s interim head coach (Twitter links).

Ollie was a finalist for the Pistons’ head coaching job last offseason. The position ultimately went to Monty Williams, with Ollie instead joining Brooklyn as an assistant coach.

A former NBA journeyman guard who played for 11 different teams in his 13 seasons, Ollie began his coaching career after retiring as a player in 2010. He was the head coach at UConn from 2012-18 and won a national title with the Huskies in 2014 but lost his job after the NCAA opened an investigation into UConn and its coaches for recruiting violations.

Ollie was also the head coach of the Overtime Elite program from 2021-23. He left that position last March.

It’s unclear if the 51-year-old will be a candidate for the full-time job, but he’ll have an opportunity to make an impression down the stretch of the 2023/24 season for the Nets, who have been struggling mightily of late, losing 18 of their past 24 games.

Atlantic Notes: Sixers, Embiid, Porzingis, Ollie

The Sixers could put off acquiring another star player until the offseason, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (video link).

Speaking on the “NBA on ESPN” show, Wojnarowski stated that Philadelphia would prefer to preserve its cap space for next summer and then pursue a max salary player in a trade or free agency. As for this season, the Sixers are more likely to just seek a less splashier move.

“When (the Sixers) made the James Harden trade with the Clippers, there was a sense they may have to … at the trade deadline, find a star player to be able to keep up with Boston and Milwaukee in the East. They’re showing with this group they can do it maybe without a third star, maybe (do) something around the edges,” Wojnarowski said.

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • The Sixers will have to go without their superstar for at least one more game. Joel Embiid, who didn’t play against Miami on Christmas Day, won’t suit up against Orlando on Wednesday, Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer tweets. Embiid, named the conference’s Player of the Week on Tuesday, is nursing an ankle injury he suffered on Friday against Toronto.
  • The Celtics made a controversial move by trading for Kristaps Porzingis during the offseason. Jayson Tatum says the team is reaping the benefits of having Porzingis’ large presence in the lineup, Jared Weiss of The Athletic tweets. “We haven’t had a low post presence like that since I’ve been on the Celtics and it creates so many problems,” Tatum said. “Are you gonna switch us? Are you in drop?…I’m just happy to be on this side of it.”
  • Kevin Ollie joined Jacque Vaughn‘s Nets staff early in the summer after being one of the finalists for the Pistons’ head coaching position. The New York Daily News’ CJ Holmes details the impact Ollie has made on the staff and the players.

Nets Officially Announce Changes To Coaching Staff

The Nets were among the teams to make an in-season coaching change this past season, replacing Steve Nash with Jacque Vaughn in November. Even though he spent nearly the entire 2022/23 season running the Nets, Vaughn didn’t get a chance to reshape his coaching staff until this spring.

Vaughn is taking advantage of that opportunity, with the Nets issuing a press release on Tuesday to formally announce several changes to their coaching staff.

The new additions, some of which were previously reported, are as follows:

  • Kevin Ollie (assistant coach), the former head coach of UConn and Overtime Elite.
  • Will Weaver (assistant coach), who has coached the Sydney Kings and (this past season) Paris Basketball internationally. He’s also a veteran NBA assistant who had a previous stint in Brooklyn as a Nets assistant (2016-18) and coach of the Long Island Nets (2018/19).
  • Jay Hernandez (assistant coach), who was an assistant coach and the director of player development with the Hornets for the past five seasons.
  • Ronnie Burrell (assistant coach), the head coach of the Long Island Nets in 2022/23.
  • Corey Vinson (assistant coach/player development), a former player development coach with the Suns.

According to today’s announcement, the Nets will retain assistant coach and director of player development Adam Caporn, as well as assistants Trevor Hendry and Ryan Forehan-Kelly. They all worked under Nash and will be holdovers under Vaughn as he prepares for his first full season as Brooklyn’s head coach.

James Borrego To Be Pelicans’ Associate Head Coach

Former Hornets head coach James Borrego will join the Pelicans as associate head coach under Willie Green, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Borrego and Green have worked together before, notes Andrew Lopez of ESPN (Twitter link). Borrego was an assistant in New Orleans when Green played there in 2010/11, and he served as an assistant in Orlando during Green’s final season as an NBA player in 2014/15.

The 45-year-old Borrego was reportedly one of the leading contenders for the Rockets’ head coaching vacancy and was among the candidates the Bucks considered to replace Mike Budenholzer. He drew a lot of interest as an assistant coach as well, with Houston, Milwaukee, Brooklyn and Dallas among the teams that reportedly wanted him to join their staffs.

The Pelicans also considered Kevin Ollie, one of the finalists for the Pistons’ head coaching job, according to Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link). Ollie is reportedly taking an assistant role on the Nets’ staff.

Jarron Collins, another top candidate for the Detroit vacancy, will also return to Green’s staff for next season, tweets Christian Clark of NOLA.

Borrego spent four years as head coach in Charlotte before being fired in 2022. He compiled a 138-163 record with the Hornets and took the team to two play-in appearances. He also went 10-20 as interim coach of the Magic in 2015.