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Mitch Lawrence: Brooklyn Nets should hire Ettore Messina

If you want an international man of mystery for the Nets coaching job, Mitch Lawrence has your man: Ettore Messina, whose name has been knocking around the coaching speculation for a couple of weeks. Expect more of it now that Messina has just won the Russian League title --for the fifth time. Although he has a contract with the team once owned by Mikhail Prokhorov, word is that he can be had.

Lawrence talks to one guy who knows Messina well: Manu Ginobili, who he helped develop while coach of Kinder Bologna. The two won a Euroleague championship in 2001, the second of Messina's four continental titles.

"There’s no question he can be a head coach in this league,’’ Ginobili told the Daily News on Friday. "The guy has more experience than almost everybody else. He is capable and he’s smart and he’s quick mentally, so he can make decisions on the fly."

Lawrence notes Messina's reputation as "a tough taskmaster," which he says is the opposite of Brian Shaw's style.

Messina has advantages other international coaches don't (other than his string of championship trophies): He worked as an assistant and consultant to Mike Brown while he was with the Lakers and he has extensive connections with Mikhail Prokhorov. He worked for Prokhorov for four years, after being hired by then CSKA GM Sergei Kushchenko, now a member of the Nets board of directors. In those four years between 2005 and 2009, he won the Russian League title four times and went to the Euroleague Final Four four times as well, winning it all in 2006 and 2008.

That should be enough to convince NBA players, says R.C. Buford, the Spurs GM. "Players will find that Ettore has the technical mind to do the job, he can do the X’s and O’s, so strategically, it would not be hard for him at all,’’ said Buford.