ROUND UP

Nuggets assistant David Adelman will interview for head coach gig

Apr 4, 2024, 12:38 PM

Michael Malone’s coaching tree looks set to spread this summer as his current top assistant coach and former right-hand man will both interview for the Charlotte Hornets head coaching job.

According to ESPN, both David Adelman and Jordi Fernandez have gotten the okay from the Denver Nuggets and Sacramento Kings respectively to interview for the gig in the Queen City.

Adelman, who is in his seventh season working under Malone on the Nuggets staff, is the son of Hall of Famer Rick Adelman, who led the Portland Trail Blazers from 1989-1994 then was the head coach of Golden State, Sacramento, Houston and Minnesota. The younger Adelman got his first NBA gig working for his father and the Timberwolves.

Now 42 years old, Adelman has filled in several times for Malone in the past few years. He’s the go-to guy if the head man gets run by a referee, as did happen earlier in the 2023-24 season in Chicago. Adelman also had an extended stint as the acting head coach during the 2022-23 championship season, when Malone was sidelined with an illness.

Players have raved about the former Trail Blazers ball boy who would listen to his father’s halftime speeches growing up in Oregon.

“I really think he’s the guy who’s going to be the next head coach because he has that head for a head coach,” Nikola Jokic said after Adelman picked up his first win in January of 2023. “He is thinking in front, he knows answers, and he reads and reacts.”

“Us players, we wanted to show him love,” Kentavious Caldwell-Pope said back then.

When not actually leading the Nuggets in totality, Adelman is focused on the Nikola Jokic-led offense, which has been one of the best while the coach has been on Malone’s bench. This led Adelman to get interest from the Toronto Raptors last summer, who ended up hiring former Serbian national team assistant Darko Rajakovic.

Speaking of national teams, Fernandez is currently leading the Canadians—who beat Team USA for bronze at this past summer’s World Cup. Fernandez left the Nuggets after the 2021-22 for a similar role with the Kings under Mike Brown. The two have helped turn around basketball in that town. And Fernandez was long respected in the Nuggets organization and always thought to be a future head coach.

If Adelman or Fernandez get the job coaching the Hornets, they’ll join Chris Finch and Wes Unseld Jr. as former Malone assistants who have gone on to be leading men.

No doubt that losing Adelman would be a blow for the Nuggets, but your assistants tend to get raided when you have sustained success over such a long period like Malone has.

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