Mike D’Antoni resigned as head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday, which means finding a replacement immediately moved its way to the top of the team’s priority list. Instead of setting their sights on a hot-shot college coach or NBA has-been, though, the Lakers might be thinking outside of the box when it comes to finding their next head honcho.
One possible candidate is Ettore Messina, a Euroleague legend who did a great job as an assistant for the Lakers in 2011-12.
A candidate Lakers management and Kobe Bryant share a fondness: Euro legend Ettore Messina. He impressed as assistant under Mike Brown.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) May 1, 2014
Messina has long been tied to NBA coaching vacancies, having been in discussions to join the Sacramento Kings, San Antonio Spurs, and Toronto Raptorsin the past decade. Although he only spent one year with the Lakers before heading back overseas, GM Mitch Kupchak might have seen just enough to put his name on the short list.
Recently named one of the Euroleague’s 10 Greatest Coaches of All Time, Messina has over 20 years of coaching experience at the professional level. He first proved his worthiness in the Italian League as the coach of Virtus Bologna, winning four championships from 1993-2003. He also tw0 Euroleague championships before joining CSKA Moscow and turning them into a Russian League powerhouse, adding another two Euroleague titles to his trophy case along the way.
Put simply, Messina knows how to win. Plus, the fact that Kobe Bryant is fond of him certainly has to count for something in the Lakers’ eyes.
This certainly isn’t going to be a quick and easy process, as Kupchak will likely take his time vetting candidates for the Lakers’ head coaching vacancy. Still, if you’re keeping track of names, make sure to write Messina’s down.