CSKA Moscow's head coach Messina reacts during their Euroleague Basketball Final Four third place game against Barcelona at the O2 Arena in London

Report: Spurs to hire European legend Ettore Messina as assistant coach


As the San Antonio Spurs are two games deep in the NBA Finals, you can be sure that Gregg Popovich has not spent a lot of time thinking about who is going to be on his staff next season, but there is a very interesting report coming out of Europe.

The Spurs are going to hire European legend Ettore Messina as assistant coach for next season, first reported by Daniele Labanti of Corriere di Bologna and later confirmed by Sportando. Reliable sources, which is what makes this interesting.

Messina is currently the coach of CSKA Moscow and is considered one of the top, most innovative coaches in Europe. He spent one season stateside as an assistant coach for Mike Brown with the Lakers, but at times reportedly found it challenging to the NBA’s style of play (and players), plus the volume of games.

Messina is an offensive innovator, something likely lost on Mike Brown but likely to be used wisely by Gregg Popovich. Manu Ginobili told PBT during the Finals that the European influence of players — more willing to share the ball and play within the system — has been part of the success of the San Antonio offense in recent years.

Messina is a legendary coach in Italy having been in the big chair for Real Madrid, Benetton Treviso, Virtus Bologna and Italy’s national team.

Kings pick up option on G Ben McLemore

Ben McLemore, Rodney Hood
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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) The Sacramento have picked up the 2016-17 option on guard Ben McLemore‘s contract.

General manager Vlade Divac announced the move Saturday.

McLemore was Sacramento’s first-round pick in 2013. He averaged 12.1 points, 2.9 rebounds and 1.7 assists last season.

Paul George reiterates “I don’t know if I’m cut out for a four spot”

Paul George

In the Pacers first exhibition game of the season Saturday against the Pelicans, Paul George started at the power forward spot and looked healthy — that should be the big takeaway. He also showed off his offensive game in the first quarter, eventually finishing the night with 18 points on 7-of-15 shooting. He forced some shots in the second half and had some defensive challenges, but it was a solid outing for a first preseason game.

George did not see it that way, and that will end up being the big takeaway.

He complained about playing power forward during training camp and given the chance after this one game he did it again, as reported by Candace Buckner of the Indy Star.

“I don’t know if I’m cut out for a four spot,” George said after the Pacers’ 110-105 loss to the New Orleans Pelicans, a game in which he started matched up against 6-foot-11 All-Star Anthony Davis.

“I don’t know if this is my position. We’ll sit and watch tape and I’m sure I’ll talk with coach (Frank Vogel). I’ll talk with Larry (Bird) as well to get both their inputs on how the first game went but…I’m still not comfortable with it regardless of the situation. It’s still something I have to adjust to or maybe not. Or maybe it’s something we can go away from.”

George sees himself as a wing, where he has played his entire career. He doesn’t like defending traditional fours, as a scorer he doesn’t like expending all that energy defending pick-and-rolls and banging with bigger bodies. He’s been clear about that.

He still needs to be open to the idea. How much time George gets at the four on any given night should depend on the matchup — and Anthony Davis is about as rough a matchup as he is going to see. Davis scored 18 points in 15 minutes, and the Pelicans controlled the paint against the small-ball Pacers. George had a hard time defending Davis — welcome to a rather large club, PG. That said, George scored 12 points in the first quarter mostly with Davis on him, he pulled the big out in space and got what he wanted.

Back to the matchups point, George will struggle defensively against the best fours in the game (most of whom are in the West). But what about the nights in the East when George would be matched up on Thaddeus Young from Brooklyn, Jared Sullinger (or David Lee, or whoever) from Boston, or Aaron Gordon with the Magic, or Carmelo Anthony with the Knicks when they play small? There are a lot of lineups the Pacers will see where George at the four makes sense.

The Pacers are transitioning from a plodding and defensive-minded squad to a more up-tempo style, and that’s going to take time— a lot more than one preseason game. However, if George is throwing cold water on the plan after this one effort, it might take a lot longer and be a lot bumpier to make that transition than we pictured.