By Nikos Varlas/ firstname.lastname@example.org
After Mike D’Antoni’s resignation from the Lakers, Ettore Messina is mentioned even as a candidate for the coaching job in Los Angeles. So, it’s a fact that this is the last European season of coach Messina, but his main option at this point seems to be the position of Gregg Popovich’s top assistant.
According to Eurohoops sources close to the situation, Messina has already informed CSKA Moscow that he is leaving in the summer, despite having a contract for one more season. Don’t be surprised if CSKA just lets him walk and give him their blessings. The same thing happened in the past with Andrey Kirilenko and retired European star Thodoris Papaloukas. Both of them had contracts, but Kirilenko was able to return to the NBA late in the summer of 2012, even with his NBA out clause expired, and Papaloukas left for his home country, Greece, and Olympiacos in the summer of 2008, despite having two years left in his contract with Moscow.
The question now is where Messina will end up and under which conditions. There have been reports about Utah and just hours ago about the Lakers, where he spend one season as a special consultant to coach Mike Brown. According to US sources at this point the most possible scenario is for Messina to end up in San Antonio, a team more than willing to trust basketball players and minds coming outside the US borders. Messina’s ultimate goal is to be the first ever European head coach in the NBA, his name was mentioned last year for Atlanta, but it’s just not easy for an NBA team to trust a non American coach. After all Popovich’s former assistants are more than successful NBA coaches and Jim Boylen, Pop’s current top assistant, is also a prime candidate for the bench of Utah.
Of course, if a better opportunity comes down the road, then Messina may not have to spend a season or two as an assistant, but it’s too early for that to be decided. After all the Italian mastermind is focused at this point at the Euroleague Final Four and his goal is clear. Leaving Europe as a Euroleague champion, for the fifth time in his career.