Nuggets’ assistant coach Chris Finch will reportedly join Alvin Gentry’s coaching staff in New Orleans next season, according to ESPN’s Marc Stein and later confirmed by Scott Kushner of The New Orleans Advocate.
Finch, who just wrapped up his first year in Denver after arriving from the Houston Rockets where he spent the previous five seasons, is regarded as one of the better offensive minds in basketball and was partially credited with turning the offense over to Nikola Jokic and transforming the Nuggets into the most efficient offense in the league since Dec. 15, when Denver established Jokic as their starting center, and fifth-best offense on the year.
Finch’s departure means that for a second-straight season, coach Michael Malone will lose a valuable assistant.
Last summer, Chris Fleming, who only spent one year in Denver but also served as the Nuggets’ de facto offensive coordinator, departed for an assistant coaching spot alongside Kenny Atkinson in Brooklyn. Fleming’s departure was followed by lead assistant Ed Pinckney, who left the team and later joined Tom Thibodeau’s staff in Minnesota.
After Fleming and Pinckney left the organization after the 2016 season, the Nuggets hired 33-year-old assistant Jordi Fernandez. Fernandez, who had most recently served as the head coach of the D-League’s Canton Charge and also has experience coaching abroad in Spain, is well-regarded within the organization and a logical candidate for a promotion into Finch’s seat.
In New Orleans, Finch will be tasked with jumpstarting a Pelicans’ offense that ranked 26th in the league last season. After the Pelicans struck a deal at February’s trade deadline to acquire DeMarcus Cousins from the Sacramento Kings, New Orleans’ offense improved, but questions about the frontcourt fit between Cousins and Anthony Davis, who have seven combined All-Star appearances, still remain.