When the Cleveland Cavaliers make a decision on who their next head coach will be, nobody will be able to accuse them of not being thorough in their search.
The San Antonio Spurs have granted the Cavs permission to interview two of the top assistants under Gregg Popovich; Ettore Messina and Ime Udoka.
The news was reported by Marc Stein of the New York Times:
The Cavaliers have secured permission to interview Ettore Messina and Ime Udoka -- two of Gregg Popovich's top aides in San Antonio -- for the Cleveland coaching vacancy, according to league sources— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) May 4, 2019
Messina has been a hot candidate for a head coaching spot since he joined the Spurs in 2014 after being the head coach of CSKA Moscow. His write-up, via the Spurs team site, is rather impressive:
Ettore Messina is a respected figure in the international basketball community, having been named one of the Euroleague’s 10 Greatest All-Time Coaches in 2008 along with numerous other accolades including a nod as European Coach of the Year, two as Euroleague Coach of the Year, four as Russian Coach of the Year, and five as Italian Coach of the Year—all topped off with a 2009 induction into the Italian Basketball Hall of Fame.
Of the names that have been associated with the Cavs, Messina is by far the most proven as a coach.
As for Ime Udoka, he is yet another intriguing candidate with an impressive resume so far. He has been a lead assistant under Popovich for six years and has coached the Spurs Summer League team twice in his six years with the team.
Udoka, 41. played for the Spurs from 2007-2011. Prior to his time in the NBA, he played in the D-League where he received the Jason Collier Sportsmanship Award in 2006.
The Cavs are clearly leaving no stoned unturned as they try to find a fresh new voice that can grow along with the team. It’s a search that is hard to judge from the outside, as none of the names that have been brought up have had a head coaching job before in the NBA. But it also comes with hope that this search might yield the next great coach or someone that could at the very least have a prosperous future with the team, rather than a re-tread.
Messina and Udoka join a list of candidates that includes Jordi Fernandez. J.B. Bickerstaff, Alex Jensen, Jamahl Mosley and Wes Unseld Jr.