Tag: Ettore Messina


Mike Fratello believes the time for a European head coach in the NBA is coming

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Mike Fratello coached 17 seasons in the NBA, and is currently coaching the Ukrainian team at Eurobasket in Slovenia.

He knows as much about the international coaching landscape as anyone, and believes we’re not far away from seeing a European head coach land a job in the states roaming an NBA sideline.

From Mark Woods of ESPN.com:

Fratello, 66, prominent now during the NBA season as a broadcaster, has been traveling across the Atlantic in a basketball capacity for more than two decades, conducting clinics, sharing his knowledge and broadcasting games back to home.

But since his appointment with the Ukrainians in 2011, he’s gotten a firsthand insight into the abilities of his European counterparts. And it is, he claims, only a matter of time before the door is kicked open for them to pursue job openings in the NBA.

“It’s coming,” he told ESPN.com. “We’ve had more people from other European countries moving into positions of prominence in the NBA in front offices. We now have people from other countries who own teams in the NBA, presidents, general managers. Assistant coaches, scouts, who represent many countries.”

The most decorated European head coach in recent history, Ettore Messina, has had flirtations with NBA jobs, but has never been able to come to terms to secure a head coaching position.

Mike Brown, in his brief run as head coach of the Lakers, was able to retain Messina as a consultant for the 2011-12 season. But Messina returned to Europe to coach CSKA Moscow in the summer of 2012.

Fratello goes on to discuss the trust an NBA front office would need to have in bringing in a European head coach unfamiliar with the NBA game, due to the limited practice time available, among other things. But given the expansion of the game internationally, it’s hard to disagree with Fratllo’s basic assertion — a European head coach will make his way to the NBA at some point; it’s only a matter of time.

What exactly does a new coach say to Kobe Bryant?

Italy Basketball Bryant Bologna

When the Lakers hired Ettore Messina to be part of Mike Brown’s coaching staff, it was seen as a coup in coaching circles. Lakers fans were confused, tried to search him on their iPhones, then complained about AT&T’s coverage and gave up.

So they know, Messina is one of the brightest coaching minds in Europe, a legend there. But he faces the same big hurdle all Lakers coaches face — how do I get through to Kobe Bryant?

Messina was at a coaching conference in Europe and said this according to BallinEurope.com.

“The other day I was on the phone with the Lakers staff, asking advice on where I should get a house,” said Messina. “I was told some people prefer living close to the practice facilities; others, like Kobe, live further away. Sometimes, in order not to challenge the incredible L.A. traffic, Kobe even comes to practice by helicopter.

“At that point I thought: ‘This guy makes $25 million and comes to practice by helicopter – What am I supposed to say to him? “Down with that ass, bend your knees”?’”

Exactly. This is Kobe’s team and he will do what he wants. The more that intersects with what Brown and Messina want, the better.

Mike Brown looking to get the old band back together in Los Angeles

Los Angeles Lakers Introduce Mike Brown

According to the ultra-reliable Marc Stein of ESPN.com, former Cleveland assistant coach and current New Orleans assistant coach Mike Malone was scheduled to meet with new Lakers head coach Mike Brown today. According to Stein, Brown also wants the recently fired Jon Kuester to join his staff as an assistant coach.

When the Cavaliers won 66 games in the 2008-09 season, Brown was the head coach, Kuester was the “offensive coordinator,” and Malone was known as the “defensive coordinator,” although Brown already had a reputation as a defensive wizard himself. The Cavalier offense improved by leaps and bounds in 08-09, and while that probably had more to do with new personnel around LeBron James than it did with Kuester’s offensive genius, the Cavaliers’ newfound offensive success was enough to get Kuester a head coaching job with the Detroit Pistons, which turned out to be an unmitigated disaster.

After Kuester left, Malone took over as the “offensive coordinator,” and while the Cavs regressed slightly as an offensive team, they were still one of the five best offensive teams in the league and won 61 games while resting their starters during the final games of the season.

After Byron Scott replaced Brown as the head coach of the Cavaliers, Malone went to New Orleans, where he took on the responsibility of improving the team’s defense. Under his watch, the Hornets went from being the 22nd-best defensive team in the league to the 8th-best defensive team in the league.

Clearly, Brown and his favorite assistants know how to coach, and the Lakers could do a lot worse than having a team of Kuester, Malone, and Brown on the sidelines, especially if Brian Shaw sticks around and/or international coaching star Ettore Messina is there as well.