Less than 24 hours after parting ways with Byron Scott, the Los Angeles Lakers have already begun aggressively pursuing a replacement at head coach. The team has reportedly asked for permission to interview a candidate that is currently employed and in the middle of a playoff run.
According to Sam Amick of USA Today, the Lakers have received permission from the San Antonio Spurs to interview assistant coach Ettore Messina:
According to a person with knowledge of the situation, the Lakers have received permission from the San Antonio Spurs to interview their lead assistant coach, Ettore Messina, as a possible replacement for the recently departed Byron Scott.
Messina is no stranger to the Lakers organization with the current Spurs assistant having served on Mike Brown’s coaching staff in Los Angeles during the 2011-12 NBA season. Messina has been on Gregg Popovich’s coaching staff since 2014 after a brief stint as head coach of CSKA Moscow.
Apparently, Messina may be a little more than viable option for the Lakers head coaching job. The 56-year-old is rumored to be on the team’s short list of candidates, according to Amick:
While many names have been mentioned, Messina and Golden State Warriors assistant Luke Walton are believed to be on the Lakers’ unofficial short list.
Unlike the last time the Lakers had a coaching vacancy, the team’s front office has vowed not to drag out the process. General Manager Mitch Kupchak believes the team will have a new coach within two weeks or at least ahead of the 2016 NBA Draft on June 23.
Messina will likely be the first of many interviews to come for Los Angeles. The team will almost certainly want to get a chance to talk with Luke Walton and may also bring in notable names like Jeff Van Gundy, Kevin Ollie, and Mark Jackson.