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.
After missing two entire seasons, all signs are pointing to 2014 No. 3 overall pick Joel Embiid finally taking the court this season. Last week, Sixers coach Brett Brown said that Embiid has looked great in his workouts and is on track to play in the preseason, and Embiid himself echoed that sentiment over the weekend. He told the Philadelphia Inquirer‘s Marc Narducci that he feels “100 percent.”
There’s always a possibility and fear that Embiid’s recurring foot problems will come back, but for now, all indications are that he’s feeling good and will be able to contribute this season, which should make Sixers fans excited.
The release of NBA 2K17, the latest edition of the popular 2K video-game series, is less than a month away. Players are starting to get their likenesses in the game, as well as their player ratings, and tweet them out. Magic forward Evan Fournier wasn’t too happy with the way his came out.
Fournier’s countryman Rudy Gobert got in on the fun, too, changing his Twitter avatar to Fournier’s screenshot and encouraging others to do the same. He even created a hashtag for it.
At least they’re having fun with it.
On Friday, the Jazz traded German center Tibor Pleiss to the Sixers along with two second-round picks for Kendall Marshall. The big draw of the trade for Philly was the picks, and Pleiss is not expected to stay with the Sixers, according to Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia’s Jessica Camerato.
Pleiss had a forgettable season with Utah, and the Sixers have a glut of bigs including Nerlens Noel, Jahlil Okafor, Joel Embiid and Dario Saric. It would have been virtually impossible for Pleiss to crack the rotation, and it’s unlikely another team picks up his contract, which has $3 million guaranteed this season.
As a Jordan Brand athlete, Russell Westbrook is under the same Nike umbrella as former teammate Kevin Durant. But his latest Jordan spot, released Friday, has a very pointed tagline: “Some run, some make runways.”
Given the circumstances, it’s hard to interpret that as anything other than a reference to Durant signing with the Warriors and Westbrook signing an extension with the Thunder.