Report: Thunder considering Ettore Messina for coach


With reported top candidate Kevin Ollie out of the race (really this time, we think), the Thunder’s coaching search is moving on.

Many presume Billy Donovan, who could leave Florida, is at the top of the list.

Beyond him?

Marc Stein of ESPN:

Messina would certainly be an interesting choice.

The Spurs hired Messina, a Euroleague coaching star, as an assistant last summer. His name has popped up for NBA vacancies for years, and maybe this stint with San Antonio has readied him.

His offensive creativity is well-regarded, and the Thunder sure could use that. They score well with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, but it seems Scott Brooks’ offensive simplicity held this team back from its elite potential.

There are concerns about how Messina would adapt to holding less power in the NBA than he did in Europe, and David Blatt’s experience in Cleveland will draw comparisons. Blatt didn’t spend a season learning from Gregg Popovich, though.

Whether it’s Messina or Donovan, it’s a bit surprising Oklahoma City would hire a first-time NBA head coach for a team ready to win a championship – especially with Durant headed into free agency. But Sam Presti doesn’t seem scared by that prospect, which should have Messina in the mix.