Sacramento Kings assistant expected to be a candidate for Charlotte Hornets coaching job

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Kings assistant Jordi Fernandez has established himself as one of the most respected and sought-after young coaches in the NBA.

Fernandez was a candidate for multiple head coaching jobs last summer and he will be a hot commodity again with the offseason fast approaching for teams that will fall short of the playoffs.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported Wednesday that Charlotte Hornets head coach Steve Clifford is stepping down at the end of the season to transition into a front office role with the organization. Sources told ESPN the Hornets are expected to consider Fernandez, Boston Celtics assistant Charles Lee, Miami Heat assistant Chris Quinn and Phoenix Suns assistant Kevin Young, among others.

Fernandez, 41, is in his second season as Mike Brown’s lead assistant in Sacramento. Fernandez was part of a dramatic turnaround as the Kings won 48 games to secure the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference to end the longest playoff drought in NBA history after 16 consecutive losing seasons.

Fernandez came to Sacramento after spending six years as an assistant on Michael Malone’s staff with the Denver Nuggets. Brown and Malone have both touted Fernandez as a future head coach.

Sacramento Kings guard Malik Monk (0) talks with associate head coach Jordi Fernandez during an NBA game between the Sacramento Kings and the Atlanta Hawks on Monday, Jan. 22, 2024, at Golden 1 Center. Hector Amezcua/hamezcua@sacbee.com
Sacramento Kings guard Malik Monk (0) talks with associate head coach Jordi Fernandez during an NBA game between the Sacramento Kings and the Atlanta Hawks on Monday, Jan. 22, 2024, at Golden 1 Center. Hector Amezcua/hamezcua@sacbee.com

Fernandez, a native of Barcelona, Spain, was a finalist for head coaching jobs in Toronto and Phoenix last summer before the Raptors hired Darko Rajakovic and the Suns hired Frank Vogel. Fernandez also interviewed with the Milwaukee Bucks.

In June, Fernandez was chosen to replace Nick Nurse as Team Canada’s head coach. Fernandez led Team Canada to a win over Team USA in the bronze medal game at the 2023 FIBA World Cup in September.

In October, Fernandez was identified as the NBA’s best assistant coach in an annual survey of the league’s top executives. Fernandez earned that distinction by a wide margin with 31% of the vote, finishing ahead of the Milwaukee Bucks’ Terry Stotts (10%), Young (10%), Lee (7%) and the Boston Celtics’ Sam Cassell (7%).