Nuggets’ Malone: Fernandez just fits
BY SAM AMICO, AMICO HOOPS
Jordi Fernandez left the Canton Charge for the Denver Nuggets, and the man who hired him away has plenty of reasons for doing so.
“I know him well, as we worked together in Cleveland,” Nuggets coach Mike Malone said in an interview with Amico Hoops. “His first year with the Cavaliers was my last.”
Fernandez spent the past six seasons with the Cavs, including the previous two as head coach of their D-League affiliate in Canton.
Malone was an assistant with the Cavs from 2005-10 (under Mike Brown). He later moved on to the head coaching job with Sacramento, where he gained a reputation as the only pro coach ever adored by temperamental center DeMarcus Cousins.
Malone is now entering his second year with the Nuggets. He promoted and hired several assistants this summer, and for Malone, adding Fernandez seemed like an easy call.
“For one, he has a tremendous player development background,” Malone said. “That is something we put a lot of emphasis on.”
“He has head coaching experience,” Malone said. “He did a great job in Canton.”
Fernandez, 34, led the Charge to a 62-38 overall record in his two seasons. They reached the D-League semifinals both times.
“Jordi is the next in a long line of coaches that have made their way from Canton to the NBA. Mike Gansey, our GM there, is special in terms of hiring and developing staff,” said Cavs GM David Griffin.
“We are really pleased that Jordi is now being embraced and recognized for his talents. He was an invaluable member of our team and has an extremely bright future in the NBA.”
It was actually Brown who discovered Fernandez at the Impact Basketball Academy in Las Vegas. Fernandez was an instructor there and worked with Brown’s son, Elijah, now a guard at the University of New Mexico.
Brown was so impressed he eventually offered Fernandez a job with the Cavs.
“He’s a very good teacher; he relates especially well to young players,” Malone said. “To see how much he’s grown since our year together in Cleveland is amazing.”
Fernandez is a native of Spain and chased the game from Amsterdam to Oklahoma and back to Norway in his early 20s. He made his way to Impact and Vegas about a decade ago.
He has always said his goal is to become an NBA head coach.
“I don’t know how I’m going to do it,” Fernandez once told the Canton Repository. “But I’ll figure it out.”
The job in Denver moves him closer to that possibility.
“He’s a great person with a terrific work ethic,” Malone said. “He fits the culture we’re trying to create throughout the entire organization.”
The Cavs have not yet announced Fernandez’s Canton replacement.