Report: Kings especially intrigued by Ettore Messina and Luke Walton, who’s expected to interview

AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli

The Kings are probably pulling for the Warriors in Game 3 against the Rockets on Thursday.

That’s because Sacramento wants to interview Luke Walton, who will be free to talk if Golden State wraps up its series quickly enough.

Ailene Voisin of The Sacramento Bee:

Luke Walton is young, ambitious and bright, and the Kings are just down the road. So, sure, when the time is right – probably after the Golden State Warriors-Houston Rockets playoff series – the Warriors’ lead assistant and former interim head coach is expected to meet with Kings general manager Vlade Divac to discuss his team’s coaching vacancy.

But then there’s everyone else. Though Divac is particularly intrigued by a small group of potential candidates – Walton; San Antonio Spurs assistant Ettore Messina; and former head coaches Tom Thibodeau and Scott Brooks – as he begins his search, he planned to reach out to several other prospects in an expansive process.

Thibodeau just took the Timberwolves job, and Brooks reportedly isn’t interested. So, scratch them off the list. Ditto Jeff Van Gundy, another coach who interests the Kings according to Voisin but without it being mutual.

In addition to other known candidates – Mike Woodson, Mark Jackson, Vinny Del Negro and Sam Mitchell – Voisin lists several others on Sacramento’s list:

  • David Blatt
  • Monty Williams
  • Kevin McHale
  • Nate McMillan
  • Jeff Hornacek
  • Ime Udoka
  • “at least two college coaches”

That’s a wide-ranging search, which the Kings should run. These people, not necessarily ideal NBA coaches, still know plenty about basketball. There’s value in hearing their ideas for the floundering franchise. Then, Divac can make a more informed choice while using all he heard going forward.

Divac’s early favorites include just two potentially viable choices: Walton and Messina, and I’m not sure how viable either is.

Walton looks happy in his current job, which will allow him to be selective. Plus, after his success as acting head coach this season, he’ll draw plenty of offers. The Kings – with a difficult DeMarcus Cousins, unqualified Divac and reckless Vivek Ranadive – don’t look appealing. But at least they’re in California, where Walton probably prefers to stay.

Messina makes more sense with Gregg Popovich signing a contract extension two years ago. If Messina wants to become a head coach any time soon, he’ll probably have to leave San Antonio. But Sacramento? The same concerns still apply.

The Kings are wise to cast a wide net. They’ll have to lure someone worth keeping.