clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

NY Post: Ettore Messina a big possibility, Tom Thibodeau not so much

Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Sean Marks has his work cut out this off-season, but most of the tasks appear minuscule compared to choosing the next head coach of the Nets.

Marks will be hiring the fourth head coach since the Nets moved to Brooklyn four seasons ago. It will be the hire that defines his tenues as general manager.

According to Brian Lewis of the New York Post, while Tom Thibodeau is everyone's favorite for open coaching jobs, he's probably not the favorite for the Nets. As Marks has said,. Thibodeau will have plenty of hefty offers this offseason. So, what about Gregg Popovich's lead assistant, Ettore Messina, who seems to fit the criteria of what the Nets are looking for in a head coach?  He checks a lot of boxes.

Lewis writes...

Brown a 11-33 since replacing the fired Lionel Hollins in January a€” is the incumbent, but surely nowhere near the favorite. Neither is highly regarded ex-Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau, who might want too much power. His agent, Leon Rose, did not return calls.

No, pole position may go to Spurs assistant Ettore Messina, who is also from the Gregg Popovich coaching tree and has a long-standing relationship with Marks.

Marks told The Post he'll have some relationship and at least an indirect connection with whomever he hires, a la Six Degrees of Separation. Messina worked with Marks for the past three years. He also coached Nets assistant GM Trajan Langdon to two Euroleague titles at CSKA Moscow. Prokhorov owned the Russian team, and board member Sergey Kushchenko was the GM.

This isn't the first time Messina's name has been brought up. Tim Bontemps of the Washington Post previously discussed how Messina is a "heavy favorite" to land the job

[H]iring the former Spurs executive has only added to the speculation that the heavy favorite to become the team's next coach is Spurs assistant coach Ettore Messina.

The 56-year-old Italian is one of the best European coaches of all time, winning a dozen league titles between his time in Italy and Russia and claiming four European titles. Messina is familiar with Nets ownership from his time coaching CSKA Moscow, and would fall in line with ownership's infatuation with the Spurs' program.

Since hired, Marks has discussed his desire to build a culture similar to the San Antonio Spurs. Starting with one of Pop's top assistants seems appropriate. Not to mention, Messina has an established relationship with Prokhorov and Kuschenko. Sounds like the perfect compromise to please both Marks and the Russians -- who will also be in the room when interviewing candidates.

Lewis notes Ex-Knicks assistant Kenny Atkinson, Bucks' assistant  Sean Sweeney, who worked under Jason Kidd in Brooklyn, Philadelphia's Brett Brown and Golden State's assistant Luke Walton are others who might under certain circumstances fall in the mix of candidates.

(Editors' Note: A previous version of this story made it appear that Thibodeau's agent had not returned the Nets calls  Thibodeau's agent did not return Brian Lewis' calls.)