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Nets reportedly to hire Jordi Fernandez to be next head coach

Utah Jazz v Sacramento Kings

SACRAMENTO, CA - MARCH 31: Associate Head Coach Jordi Fernandez of the Sacramento Kings coaches during the game against the Utah Jazz on March 31, 2024 at Golden 1 Center in Sacramento, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2024 NBAE (Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)

NBAE via Getty Images

Kings’ associate head coach Jordi Fernandez has been near the front of the line of up-and-coming assistants deserving a shot in the big chair.

He’s getting it in Brooklyn — the Nets are reportedly set to hire Fernandez as their new head coach, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

The Nets decided to go with Fernandez, 41, the up-and-coming, player-friendly coach, over the more experienced team builder Mike Budenholzer, or a number of other up-and-coming coaches such as Kevin Young of the Suns (Young and Budenholzer were reportedly finalists with Fernandez). The Nets cast a wide net with their initial search, with GM Sean Marks reportedly interviewing more than a dozen candidates.

Fernandez — who was voted “best assistant coach” in the NBA’s preseason GM poll — replaces Kevin Ollie, who was hired mid-season to replace Jacque Vaughn.

Fernandez will continue to be on the Kings’ bench through the postseason, they face the Warriors in the play-in 9/10 game on Tuesday. Fernandez also coaches the Canadian national team and will be busy with that team at the Paris Olympics this summer, a team with a stacked roster — Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, maybe Jamal Murray, Dillon Brooks, RJ Barrett and more — that has medal aspirations (they won bronze at the FIBA World Cup last summer with Fernandez as coach).

Before joining Mike Brown in Sacramento, Fernandez spent six years on Michael Malone’s staff in Denver. He also has a couple of years of head coaching experience with the G-League Canton Charge during his time with the Cavaliers.

In Brooklyn he takes over a team 32-50 team that missed the play-in and is still trying to find a path in the wake of the Kevin Durant/Kyrie Irving/James Harden era. There is solid talent on the roster — Mikal Bridges, Nic Claxton, Cam Thomas, Dennis Schroder — fitting with the team’s strategy of building out a roster with trade assets that a superstar can step into and start to win immediately (Bridges is not a No. 1 option at the NBA level, but the Nets believe he can be a No. 2). The problem is getting that superstar to come. The Nets are expected to be aggressive on the trade and free agent market this summer.