Spurs Rumors: Assistant Ettore Messina Agrees to Become HC of Olimpia Milano

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistJune 11, 2019

San Antonio Spurs assistant coach Ettore Messina in the first half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, April 3, 2019, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
David Zalubowski/Associated Press

San Antonio Spurs assistant coach Ettore Messina is reportedly heading to his home country of Italy to become a head coach.

According to Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium, Messina has agreed to a deal to serve as the head coach and head of basketball operations for Pallacanestro Olimpia Milano of Lega Basket Serie A and the EuroLeague.

Messina has been head coach Gregg Popovich's lead assistant with the Spurs since 2014, and he previously enjoyed success as a head coach in Italy, Spain and Russia.

Before heading to the United States to be one of Popovich's assistants, Messina led Virtus Bologna to Euroleague titles in 1998 and 2001, and he accomplished the feat as the head coach of CSKA Moscow in 2006 and 2008 as well.

Between his time with Virtus Bologna and Benetton Basket Treviso, Messina captured four Italian league titles, and he then led CSKA to five Russian league titles after leaving Italy.

Messina was also the head coach at Real Madrid from 2009 to 2011 before taking on a role as a consultant with the Los Angeles Lakers during the 2011-12 campaign.

Although Messina is set to go back to Europe, he had been viewed as a candidate to land a head coaching job in the NBA over the past couple of seasons.

Messina interviewed with the Charlotte Hornets last year, but Charlotte ended up hiring fellow former Spurs assistant James Borrego. Messina also received an interview with the Cleveland Cavaliers last month, but they hired John Beilein away from the University of Michigan.

During last year's playoffs, Messina served as the Spurs' interim head coach following the death of Popovich's wife. Messina held his own and even led San Antonio to one win over the Golden State Warriors in the first round.

In Olimpia Milano, Messina will take over a team that has 28 Italian championships and three EuroLeague titles to its credit.

Olimpia Milano's 28 Italian titles are the most all-time, and they have won three of the past five Italian titles. The club has not won a EuroLeague crown since 1987-88, however.

If Messina can help Olimpia Milano continue its success and perhaps bring it back to EuroLeague glory, that could go a long way toward landing him an NBA head coaching position in the future if he remains interested.