Spurs Rumors: Ettore Messina a finalist for Raptors head coach

The San Antonio Spurs have multiple assistant coaches tied up in interviews, including Ettore Messina, who’s a finalist for the Toronto Raptors job.

The San Antonio Spurs already lost assistant coach James Borrego to the Charlotte Hornets, who named him their next head coach. Becky Hammon even interviewed for the Milwaukee Bucks job, which went to former Gregg Popovich disciple, Mike Budenholzer.

Ettore Messina is another Spurs assistant in the mix for other jobs, as he was linked to the Bucks and the Toronto Raptors. However, it seems he could be close to a head coach position.

According to Josh Lewenberg of TSN Sports, Messina is a finalist for the Toronto job, after having a second interview. Raptors assistant Nick Nurse, who worked under the fired Dwane Casey, is the other top candidate.

Messina joined San Antonio’s coaching staff in 2014 and became Popovich’s lead assistant. That included a brief stint as the interim head coach in the 2018 playoffs, when Popovich’s wife, Erin, passed away.

Prior to this, Messina worked as the head coach of Russia’s CSKA Moscow (twice), Team Italy and as an assistant for the Los Angeles Lakers. His coaching experience extends over two decades.

If Messina takes the Toronto job, it’s one that features a team that finished first in the Eastern Conference but was swept by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the second round of the postseason. They still boast Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan on multi-year deals, but do not have open cap space this offseason, due to the contracts of their stars, Jones Valanciunas and Serge Ibaka.

This might not be the last San Antonio assistant to leave, either. Ime Udoka is reportedly a finalist for the Detroit Pistons head-coach position, with Dwane Casey as the other choice. That means up to three spots could open on Popovich’s staff, with no indication of how will replace them, and give the Silver and Black a somewhat new-look group on the bench next season.