Ettore Messina will not join Gregg Popovich’s coaching staff
With Spurs Assistant Coaches Mike Budenholzer and Don Newman recently considered for coaching roles elsewhere in the NBA, San Antonio’s staff was a bit up in the air. So basically, it’s been the same old offseason story in South Texas.
As of right now, it doesn’t look like either coach’s departure is imminent, which is good, because it appears one possible replacement just got snatched up. Former Real Madrid Head Coach Ettore Messina is set to join Mike Brown’s new staff with the Los Angeles Lakers, according to ESPN The Magazine’s Ric Bucher. Messina will join Brown’s staff in a behind-the-bench, “consultant” role. Think Jacque Vaughn, not Coach Bud.
Messina was rumored to be a possible addition to Gregg Popovich’s staff in San Antonio. Messina spent a few days with the Spurs back in March after leaving Madrid. He had said that he was interested in coaching in the NBA and didn’t mind doing so as an assistant for a couple of years. It’s assumed he’ll be handling a lot of offensive responsibilities for the Lakers, which makes sense since he previously helped Brown out on that side of the ball a bit when Brown was coaching the Cavaliers.
In a way, it’s a shame that Messina didn’t join the Spurs, just because it’s one of those outside the box, under the radar moves you’d expect the Spurs to make. The last major move a coach made coming from Europe to the NBA was Mike D’Antoni joining the Suns in 2002 as an assistant. D’Antoni was previously the head coach at Benetton Treviso in Italy.
With Messina joining the NBA, the move further globalizes the game. In the event Messina spends a couple years as an assistant coach, learning the NBA and how things work behind the scenes, and then goes on to become a successful head coach somewhere, it opens up the European leagues further for NBA teams to pillage for more than just a draft-and-stash project or Gary Neal success story. And with the Spurs arguably the most global team in the league, I’m a little disappointed it wasn’t them who nabbed Messina.
Obviously, the Spurs have more glaring imperfections to fix, so Messina may not have been a high-priority target. It’s tough to say how much of an impact an assistant coach will actually have on a team, especially a veteran one like the Spurs. And if the fit wasn’t right, then it wasn’t right. No need to force something in the name of nonconformity. As long as Messina doesn’t resurrect the hopefully-on-the-downslide Lakers, that is.
Regarding Budenholzer, the Golden State Warriors hired ESPN/ABC analyst Mark Jackson to be the team’s new head coach. So it appears that Coach Bud will be back for another season with Gregg Popovich, unless something his name comes up in another coaching vacancy this summer.