On this episode of Strictly Hoops, C.J. Miles discusses what he noticed about Sergio Scariolo through their brief interactions in Toronto and why front offices are increasingly looking at a new wave of coaches to guide their teams. Listen to full episode on Fernandez, Sergio Scariolo and how coaching changes impacts players on the 'Raptors Over Everything' podcast feed.
AMIT MANN: And funny enough, guess who was coached by Jordi Fernandez? CJ Miles in Cleveland.
CJ MILES: The perks of playing 1,000 years in the league, right? Everybody comes up knows something about. No, Jordi's great. I loved him in Cleveland. Obviously, he's a little younger, but it's great to see where he's grown, and see where he went from there. I think he went to Denver after that before he went to Sacramento. A lot of knowledge, a lot of different-- coached a lot of different types of players, a lot of different types of games. Has a real good understanding of the way the game is played now.
It's not a coincidence. There's been success everywhere he's been. Coming off the success just now in Sacramento. And being under Mike Brown and being under these great coaches, I mean, he's been-- he's had a great career so far.
AMIT MANN: Certainly.
CJ MILES: And he's good on the floor, too, because he started being on the floor with guys. That was how I met-- that was how I met him. He was on the floor with guys, like, working with guys.
AMIT MANN: That's what I was going to ask you, actually, is how did you meet him and what was your relationship with him in Cleveland?
CJ MILES: Yeah, so, like, in Cleveland, when I got there, we were just talking about this beforehand. We had a ton of coaches. We had a ton of basketball knowledge around, which is needed, though, because the team was so young. So you needed to have guys that can-- because you know how it goes. Like, over the years, you know, that becomes your guy. Like, just all the relationship wise, and, you know, y'all just relate a certain way, and you can speak and he can tell you the truth. And y'all can-- it's just how it goes. So like every coach has got two or three guys, they just have a better relationship than the others.
Like my guy was Oubre because I knew Oubre before I got there. But then after meeting Sergio and being there during the summer and being there with some guys out there, you start to develop these other relationships. And that's how I got cool him. Just from being a gym rat. So I ended up kind of getting cool with all the coaches because I had to work with all of them because I was always there. So-- but that was the great thing about it, though, all those guys had a different insight on things, ways they could help you. And that was what was great about it.
AMIT MANN: So what was Jordi's then?
CJ MILES: They were big on, like, just the pace and the angles and the things they was teaching me because I was coming out of Utah. Like, we were talking before, seven years of running that system, that UCLA 1-4 high, transferring over to the big above with the big up top, the dribble handoffs, all of that. Just a lot of knicks and knacks, little things he showed me just about creating in that space. And just about the shape that it was going to take to be in to play this.
And they just challenged me. He challenged me the way I shot the ball, the numbers. Like, you should be able to make eight out of 10 instead of it being whatever from this, and we're going to stack the drills where there's going to be multiple actions to push you in all these different ways. They showed me how to translate that into the game because I think when we first came in, the workouts were just pretty much the workouts. You shoot your spots. There might be one thing-- do some ball handling. It's not really-- it wasn't always game actions in the workouts to transfer over. It was just about being in the gym.
AMIT MANN: So how did Jordi convey that to you? Did you-- was he a good communicator at that time? Do you think he's honed that skill over time? Or-- I mean, even, still, did you-- when he spoke to you, did you trust what he was saying?
CJ MILES: Yeah, and I think it was just the availability also. Like, there was never a time when I came to him that it seemed like he didn't want to, like-- or he wanted to, like, no, we need to do this instead. Like, no, this is what you want to explore? Let's explore that. And then it was sprinkle in what needs to be sprinkled in on top of it, but don't just like negate it because I think that happens sometimes when guys come, it's like, what about this? And the coach has an idea of what they want you to do, so they just shift you straight over there.
And it was like, no, I was just trying to learn. Like, this happened to me. I wanted to know how I could do it better, but they're like, no, you shouldn't be doing that anyway. Let's just do that. And I think the best thing about him and the rest of that staff was they were open to exploring the game. And you see that with guys with the younger coaches coming up into these-- to the pool now because the game is played so open. They've allowed that growth to happen. And I think that was one of the great things about it. He was great. Obviously, a younger guy too, so, like, relatability was good. But great energy, loved to be in the gym. Like, that's all you can ask for as a player. Like, you know?
AMIT MANN: I was going to ask you about that, actually, because Mike Brown has mentioned this before with Jordi is that he's kind of a gym rat. That he's always around and if you know more about his background, you know how he arrived in the NBA, like, it's-- he's grinded a lot from step by step by step everywhere he's gone. He's slowly but surely making his way up, and it seems like he's ready for this. Did you-- actually, this is a better question. Can a player tell when an assistant has head coaching, like, chops, that they could do that, or is it less obvious in their role?
CJ MILES: I think-- so, in all honesty, in that time period for him, I couldn't say yes or no just because what a head coach is now is so different. The game is so different. And the way we look at it is so different, you know what I mean? And the collective is so much more used. Like you see so many more guys that used to be head coaches being assistant coaches now because it's treated as a collective. It's not this dominant on the guy mentality anymore.
Do I think he had enough knowledge and he could grow into it? Yes, I definitely saw it. You could feel that and see that, but I didn't-- but I also probably wasn't looking at it that way, because he was so-- when we crossed paths, we were closer to each other's age than-- than you would see a head coach. So I'm looking at Mike Brown at that time, who has been coaching-- the gap between them at that time, he's been coaching so much longer and Byron Scott the year before, Jerry Sloan, all my coaches have been in the game so long, it was hard to see a young guy as a head coach yet because I hadn't seen it.