San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich will miss Game 3 due to the tragic passing of his wife. Ettore Messina will step in for him.
Messina, 58, is an assistant coach for the Spurs and has been with the organization since 2014. He is also the head coach for the Italian National Team. He has coached Marco Belinelli and Danilo Gallinari in this role.
The 58-year-old was a consultant for the Los Angeles Lakers during the 2011-12 season. Mitch Kupchak, who recently became the general manager of the Charlotte Hornets, was with the Lakers at the time.
Kupchak will interview Messina for the head coaching vacancy with the Hornets after recently parting ways with former head coach Steve Clifford.
He has previously interviewed for the Houston Rockets head coaching job before it was given to Mike D’Antoni.
He was also linked to openings with the Memphis Grizzlies and the Lakers. Messina became an immediate favorite of six-time NBA champion Kobe Bryant.
In fact, the eighteen-time All-Star once said Messina should become the head coach in Los Angeles.
When he was the head coach at CSKA Moscow, Messina worked with several NBA players.
Milos Teodosic, the rookie point guard for the Los Angeles Clippers, has a player option in his contract and could become a free agent this offseason. He has also coached Aaron Jackson, who was recently signed by the Houston Rockets.
When he was the head coach of Real Madrid, Messina coached Sergio Llull (who is expected to eventually play in the United States) as well as current NBA players Serge Ibaka, Nikola Mirotic and Kyle Singler.
While the Hornets are the only team that has received permission to speak with him this offseason, expect others to express interest as well.