It’s always fun trying to figure out what’s next.
What players are coming in next to a team? What player is next on the path to be great? But in the case of the Oklahoma City Thunder, everyone is wondering what is next as far as their head coach.
The rumor mill is churning and the names are spinning every where. The 2 biggest names mentioned the most have been college coaches Billy Donovan of the Florida Gators and former Thunder guard and current UCONN Huskies coach Kevin Ollie.
Now it appears that another name might be getting thrown in the mix but this time it’s from the NBA ranks. San Antonio Spurs lead assistant coach, Ettore Messina.
Following from ESPN’s Marc Stein.
Early fave for OKC job clearly Billy Donovan but word in coaching circles is that Spurs assistant coach Ettore Messina is on Thunder's list
— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) April 23, 2015
Early fave for OKC job clearly Billy Donovan but word in coaching circles is that Spurs assistant coach Ettore Messina is on Thunder’s list.
Messina’s name has been brought up before, most notably last summer with the Los Angeles Lakers during their coaching search. It’s rightfully deserved as Messina has the coaching chops that compares to just about anyone. Sure, most of his work has been overseas but in his first season as a coach with the Spurs, he proved he can lead a team to do some great things.
Messina is a 4 time Euroleague Champion and a 2-time Euroleague coach of the year in his time as a coach overseas. From 1993 to 1997, Messina was the head coach of the senior men’s Italian national basketball team. He led Italy to the silver medal at the EuroBasket 1997. In 2011 Messina was frequently the subject of speculation linking him with coaching jobs in the NBA. Messina agreed to join the Los Angeles Lakers as part of then head coach Mike Brown’s staff, to serve as a consultant to the head coach but in a full-time position. Messina was hired by the San Antonio Spurs to be their lead assistant coach over the summer.
On October 16, 2014, Messina would coach the Spurs in a pre-season 121-90 loss with the Phoenix Suns due to Gregg Popovich deciding not to travel with the team at the time. On November 26, 2014, Messina became the first Italian-born head-coach in an NBA game, leading the Spurs to a home victory against the Indiana Pacers.