Sportando: Ettore Messina to join Spurs coaching staff
One of these days, I’m going to get to write about a truly juicy rumor. In the four years or so that I’ve covered this team, the number of times I’ve posted a newser about a coaching or front office transaction has far outweighed the number of good player movement pieces.
And so it begins for 2014 as, according to Sportando, it looks like famed international basketball coach Ettore Messina is set to join Gregg Popovich’s staff with the Spurs when the NBA Finals finish. Messina is a coaching giant overseas having led Vitrus Bologna (and coached both Manu Ginobili and Marco Belinelli), Benetton Treviso, Real Madrid and CSKA Moscow. He was also an assistant for the Los Angeles Lakers a couple of years ago under Mike Brown.
If the rumor is true, the first question here is what will happen with the presently constructed Spurs coaching staff. Current lead assistant Jim Boylen was rumored to be in the running for the Utah Jazz head coaching search, but that gig ultimately went to former Austin Toros boss Quin Snyder. Per NBA rules, only three other assistant coaches are allowed on the bench with the head coach. Could Messina’s role be a behind-the-bench, Jacque Vaughn-type of position, similar to the one Messina held with the Lakers? Or could the staff be in for some shuffling?
Either way, Messina shouldn’t take long to integrate with the Spurs coaching staff. Shortly after leaving Real Madrid in 2011, the coach went to San Antonio to spend some time with Gregg Popovich and his staff.
As the sun gets closer and closer to setting on the era of the Duncovich era in San Antonio, you can’t help but wonder about the long-term potential in Messina’s reportedly imminent hiring. Popovich and RC Buford respect Messina and have known him for many years. With Mike Budenholzer and Brett Brown gone, Pop’s staff is now a young one with no real easily discernable successor in place. Boylen is the most senior, but his time in the Spurs program has thus far been short.
Meanwhile, the 54-year-old Messina comes from an international background like many of the Spurs players. The Spurs system, unique though it may be, has its roots in the international game. Messina is also well-versed in how to run a big basketball club. The names of many of the teams he coached may not seem as familiar on American soil, but abroad they’re the highest of the highs.
Derek Fisher and Steve Kerr reportedly signed head coaching contracts that combined will total $50 million over the next five years without either having coached an NBA game in their lives, as an assistant or otherwise. Meanwhile, the Spurs could be on the verge of bringing in a coaching legend and possible successor to Gregg Popovich in the most Spurs-y, under-the-radar way, building relationships overseas and mining the international game for talent.
As it is and always will be with the Spurs, it isn’t sexy but it’s how the program works.