Report: Hawks talk to Messina, would be first European born NBA coach

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Two seasons ago Ettore Messina was part of Mike Brown’s Los Angeles Lakers staff during the lockout season, but he left this season (good timing) to be the head coach of CSKA Moscow.

Now he could be coming back to the NBA — and sitting in the big chair.

The Hawks are talking to the Italian-born Messina about their head coaching job, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports.

Ettore Messina, the Italian-born coach of CSKA Moscow, is among the top candidates to replace coach Larry Drew. Ferry and Messina have had contact about the possibility, and Messina is intrigued with the chance to be a global trail blazer in the NBA, sources told Y! Sports.

Ferry recently scouted CSKA Moscow in London at the Euroleague Final Four.

First, we have to say that Larry Drew has not yet been fired in Atlanta. Yet the fact that GM Danny Ferry is reaching out to several coaches to gauge interest in the job tells you pretty much all you need to know about his future in the ATL Drew and his assistants are looking for other jobs.

The first person Ferry reached out to about the head coaching job was reportedly Stan Van Gundy. That didn’t go so well and isn’t going to happen.

Ferry also has interviewed Nate McMillan this week. It is expected he might talk to some of the top assistant coaches out there as well.

Messina has had incredible success in Europe — he has won five Russian and four Italian league titles in his time. His teams have won the EuroLeague (where the best teams from across Europe compete against each other) four times.

Messina has turned down NBA rebuilding projects before. He’s considered a hard personality at times and puts the team ahead of the players — fans love that but it doesn’t always go as well in the locker room.

But he has a fantastic basketball mind. He would bring a system and style of ball movement and player movement that could be fantastic in the NBA if the players buy in.

I doubt it happens, I bet Messina lands with another top European club. But it would be interesting.

Josh Jackson’s first pitch is… just a bit outside

Associated Press
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Josh Jackson is not going Bo Jackson on us and playing baseball in the offseason.

The highly-rated forward out of Kansas who was the No. 4 pick of the Phoenix Suns was invited to throw out the first pitch before Friday night’s Diamondbacks game.

To quote Bob Uecker, he was just a bit outside. He tried the corner and missed.

Lonzo Ball was able to make his first pitch, ergo, he will turn out to be a much better NBA player. Obviously, these skills correlate.

Report: Re-signing Nerlens Noel Mavericks’ top off-season priority

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This is a Mark Cuban owned team, you don’t think the Mavericks are going to make a serious run at a free agent come July 1? Pelicans’ point guard Jrue Holiday has long been known to be a target, but there will be others.

But keeping their new core together, including restricted free agent Nerlens Noel, is the top priority, reports Marc Stein of ESPN.

Rumors like this are out there in part from Dallas to hope to chill the market for Noel. While he could be a defensive force who provides some scoring around the rim, with Noel’s injury history they may be able to get him at less than max money — because if he’s at the max the Mavericks are flirting with the luxury tax (and Cuban isn’t going to want to pay the tax for a borderline playoff team at best).

What Dallas fears is what Brooklyn did last season to Allen Crabbe in Portland and Tyler Johnson in Miami — some team to come in with a max or near-max offer sheet that drives up the price. Dallas will match, they will keep the young core together, it just gets more expensive.

Next season in Dallas will be a deserved big farewell to Dirk Nowitzki. He will be the focus, but behind him Dallas will try to be building for the future. They made the trade deadline move to make sure Noel is a part of that, the only question now is how much it costs them.

Magic Johnson on drafting Lonzo Ball: “what I needed was a leader”

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Nobody, not even his critics with the Lakers, question that D'Angelo Russell had talent. What they questioned from the start was his work ethic and maturity. I was told by sources with the team he often was the last one to team meetings, often one of the first out of the gym, and the whole Nick Young thing spoke to the maturity question. Byron Scott took a lot of heat as Lakers’ coach for benching him, and Scott’s communication skills were lacking, but he had reasons. Russell also just 21 and maybe he finds his way, but the Lakers weren’t willing to wait anymore.

Which is why the Lakers were willing to move him to Brooklyn in the Brook Lopez trade, and why the Lakers went after Lonzo Ball in the draft, Magic Johnson said, via Baxter Holmes of ESPN.

Is Lonzo Ball a leader? Only time will tell, he has the potential.

Will players want to play with him? Yes, if the passing skills he showed in college transfer to the NBA. If guys know they will get the rock if they run/cut, then they will do just that. It’s some simple B. F. Skinner stuff here — if players are rewarded they will keep doing it. Get them the rock in transition and they will get out there every time.

Ball has flaws in his game, there are certainly questions about his defense, and how that awkward shot translates remains to be seen (it goes in but his time to get it off will decrease at the NBA level)? Will he be a scoring threat in the half-court? He’s got work to do. But answer those questions and the Lakers may have the key piece to help anchor a franchise he’s been looking for.

Sacramento Kings waive guard Arron Afflalo

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) The Sacramento Kings have waived guard Arron Afflalo one year after signing him as a free agent.

The Kings cut ties with Afflalo on Friday before his entire $12.5 million contract for 2017-18 would become guaranteed. Afflalo will get $1.5 million instead.

Afflalo averaged 8.4 points and 2 rebounds in 61 games this past season for Sacramento. He has averaged 11.3 points per game in his 10-year career.