Sacramento Kings’ Jordi Fernandez to replace Nick Nurse as Canada’s head coach

2019 NBA Champion Nick Nurse has stepped away from his head coach position with the…

Sacramento Kings’ Jordi Fernandez to replace Nick Nurse as Canada’s head coach

2019 NBA Champion Nick Nurse has stepped away from his head coach position with the Canadian men’s basketball team, which already secured a new manager ahead of August’s FIBA World Cup.

Jordi Fernandez, an associate head coach with the Sacramento Kings, will lead the Canadian men in their pursuit of a Olympic berth in Paris 2024, Canada Basketball announced on Wednesday.

The Spaniard will take over for the former Raptors coach, who signed with the Philadelphia 76ers in June.

Newcomer Fernandez spent six years with the Denver Nuggets as an assistant before making the move to Sacramento in 2022, where he became a sought-after coach often linked to managerial jobs — including the Raptors.

The 40-year-old also has experience as an assistant coach with Spain’s men’s under-19 team and Nigeria’s men’s national team.

“To have the chance to lead Canada this summer at the World Cup is a tremendously exciting opportunity and one I’m extremely grateful for,” Fernández said in a statement. “Not many international programs have the ceiling that this team does, and it is a testament to the hard work and development Canada Basketball, as well as Nick and his staff, have put in over the last several years.”

General manager Rowan Barrett touted Fernandez’s international experience.

“Jordi has developed a tremendous reputation working with some of the best players in the world, and we feel that the culture and connection he will build with our team will set us up for success this summer,” said Barrett.

WATCH | Canada basketball GM Rowan Barrett discusses path to Paris:

Canada Basketball GM Rowan Barrett on Canada’s pathway to Paris 2024

Host Morgan Campbell is joined by Canada Basketball General Manager Rowan Barrett to discuss the development of the men’s program and what they’ll need to do to qualify for Paris 2024.

Nurse, who had been with Team Canada since 2019, was fired by the Raptors in April following a disappointing season that saw Toronto finishing ninth in the Eastern Conference and fail to make the playoffs after a play-in loss to the Chicago Bulls.

Nurse’s decision to leave Canada’s program is a clear change of course from late April, when Canada Basketball said the 2019 NBA champion would remain in the program despite being let go by the Raptors.

Nurse said Wednesday it was a “difficult decision” to step down.

“It has been a tremendous honour and privilege to coach this team.  This is not a decision I made lightly, and after discussing it with my family, I felt it was important to dedicate my time and energy to the new opportunity I have as head coach of the Philadelphia 76ers,” he said.

Assistant coaches Nate Bjorkgren and Nathaniel Mitchell will remain with the team, Canada Basketball added.

FIBA World Cup

The FIBA World Cup will run from Aug. 25 to Sept. 10 the Philippines, Japan, and Indonesia. It will determine qualification for the 2024 Summer Games as the top two finishers from the Americas region will punch tickets to the tournament.

Canada, currently No. 15 in the FIBA world ranking, will face fifth-ranked France, 43th-ranked Lebanon and 29th-ranked Latvia in Group H. The top two teams from each group will advance to the second round.

The Canadian squad, which could have Jamal Murray of the NBA champion Denver Nuggets and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander of the Oklahoma City Thunder headlining its roster this summer, is scheduled to play at least five exhibition games before the World Cup starts.

Murray and Gilgeous-Alexander were among 14 players who committed to the team for a three-year cycle ending in Paris — the same time Nurse’s contract was supposed to end. With the coach now out, it remains to be seen whether those committments will still be honoured.

Canada has not qualified for the Olympic men’s basketball tournament since 2000.