The Nets hire new head coach Jordi Fernández

The Brooklyn Nets officially announced Jordi Fernández as their new head coach Monday, marking the fifth head coach the team has hired since Sean Marks took over as general manager in 2016. Fernández comes to Brooklyn after coaching with the Sacramento Kings for the past two seasons and is the current head coach for the Canadian men’s basketball team.

Most notably on his resume, Fernández coached team Canada to a gold medal in last year’s FIBA World Cup. Fernández’s road to coaching was rather unconventional, beginning his coaching career at the age of 15 working with professional teams in Spain. Additionally, he coached the Spanish U19 national team and has served assistant roles on Spanish men’s national team and the Nigerian national team. 

The list of coaching candidates for the Nets was long, according to the team. In a statement, Marks said, “It became increasingly clear that Jordi is the best coach to lead our team forward.” Fernández takes over for interim coach Kevin Ollie, who replaced Jacque Vaughn midseason.

According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, the Nets were picking between Fernández, former Milwaukee Bucks champion coach Mike Budenholzer and former Phoenix Suns coach Kevin Young. The hire of Fernández offers a sliver of thought into the potential direction the Nets could be heading towards this offseason. 

Michael Scotto of HoopsHype recently linked the team to current Cleveland Cavaliers guard Donovan Mitchell, signaling that the Nets could look to build through trades and free agency, similar to their 2020-2021 team that had Kevin Durant, James Harden and Kyrie Irving. 

In a recent meeting with fans, Marks spoke at length about the team’s options this summer and beyond, specifically pointing out that “[Brooklyn] attracts stars, the team is going to attract stars. It’s just a matter of when we do that.” If the Nets go this route, it would likely cost them a multitude of draft picks as well as disassemble a large portion of their roster.

However, Fernández is far from a win-now hire. This will be his first NBA head coaching job, and Fernández is known around the league as a development coach, similar to when the Nets hired Kenny Atkinson in 2016 to coach the likes of D’Angelo Russell, Caris LeVert and Jarrett Allen. 

Fernández is credited with playing a pivotal role in the development of two-time NBA MVP Nikola Jokić, who Fernández coached from 2016-2022. Additionally, Fernández oversaw the development of Irving throughout his time as player-development coach in Cleveland from 2009-2013, and he played a pivotal role in Sacramento’s surge from a bottom-tier team to surefire playoff team from 2022-2023. 

Fernández takes over a Nets team with an amalgamation of youth and veteran talent. Players such as Mikal Bridges, Cameron Johnson, Ben Simmons and Dennis Schröder are all into their late 20s and have likely hit their peak. Then there’s the “young core” the team has developed, including Cam Thomas, Nicolas Claxton, Jalen Wilson and Noah Clowney. 

Considering the massive leaps Clowney and Thomas took this season, it’s fair to assume Fernández was hired to continue their development. In a press conference Wednesday, Fernández said the aspect that excites him most about the Nets is the “youth.”

Although the direction isn’t clear yet, what is certain is that the Nets face a fork in the road — to build up the youth through Fernández or to continue building around Bridges. With the offseason beginning immediately after the playoffs, the direction the Nets choose to go in will be determined rather quickly.


Featured photo courtesy of @BrooklynNets, X