Sacramento Kings assistant Jordi Fernandez among finalists for Phoenix Suns coaching job

Xavier Mascareñas/

Kings coach Mike Brown has often said it’s only a matter of time before other teams start poaching talent from the coaching staff he has assembled in Sacramento.

That time could come sooner than Brown may have hoped.

The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported Tuesday the Phoenix Suns have narrowed their search for a new head coach to five finalists. One of the most intriguing candidates is Kings assistant Jordi Fernandez.

The five finalists will reportedly meet with Suns owner Mat Ishbia and team president James Jones later this week in Michigan. The other finalists are former Toronto Raptors head coach Nick Nurse, former Philadelphia 76ers head coach Doc Rivers, former Los Angeles Lakers head coach Frank Vogel and Suns assistant Kevin Young.

The Suns are searching for a replacement for Monty Williams, who was fired May 13. Williams, the 2022 NBA Coach of the Year, compiled a 194-115 record in four seasons with the Suns. He led Phoenix to the NBA Finals in 2021 before losing in the Western Conference semifinals the past two seasons.

The Suns have two of the NBA’s biggest stars in Devin Booker and Kevin Durant, so the job holds plenty of appeal.

Fernandez, 40, just completed his first season as associate head coach in Sacramento, where he is serving as Brown’s lead assistant. Fernandez, who has already been a candidate for other head coaching jobs, was a big part of the culture change in Sacramento this season as the Kings won the Pacific Division to reach the playoffs for the first time since 2006.

Fernandez reportedly interviewed with the Raptors on April 28. Nurse, Golden State Warriors associate head coach Kenny Atkinson and Raptors assistant Adrian Griffin were recently identified as finalists for the job in Toronto.

Fernandez is often mentioned as one of the top young coaching candidates in the NBA. A native of Barcelona, Spain, he began his coaching career as a player development coach on Brown’s staff with the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2009. He spent one season as an assistant and two seasons as head coach of the G League Canton Charge before joining the Denver Nuggets in 2016-17.

Fernandez spent six seasons in Denver as a prized assistant under former Kings coach Michael Malone. Fernandez also stayed in close contact with Brown, who added Fernandez to his coaching staff with the Nigerian national team before bringing him to Sacramento last summer.