San Antonio Spurs assistant Ime Udoka became the fifth candidate to interview for the Cavaliers coaching vacancy Sunday, a league source said, as the front office looked for the next successful product of the Gregg Popovich coaching tree.
Udoka, 41, has spent seven seasons as a Spurs assistant. The Philadelphia 76ers’ Brett Brown, the Milwaukee Bucks’ Mike Budenholzer, the Chicago Bulls’ Jim Boylen and Golden State Warriors assistant Mike Brown, the former Cavs coach, are among those who have worked under Popovich, who has won five championships in San Antonio.
The Cavs’ interest in Spurs staffers is not confined to Udoka. A league source confirmed a report by Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com that San Antonio assistant Ettore Messina will interview with the Cavs this week.
With the Spurs since 2014, Messina was named one of the Euroleague’s 10 all-time greatest coaches in 2008 and was inducted into the Italian Basketball Hall of Fame in 2009. He was selected coach of the year five times in Italy, four times in Russia and twice was Euroleague coach of the year. He also directed the Italian national team.
A native of Catania, Italy, Ettore, 59, spent over 15 years in that country with Virtus Bologna and Benetton Treviso before moving on to CSKA Moscow and a brief stop with Real Madrid of the Spanish League. Ettore spent 2011-12 as a consultant for the Los Angeles Lakers as a strategist for then-coach Mike Brown before going back to CSKA Moscow.
The Cavs have already interviewed former Memphis Grizzlies coach J.B. Bickerstaff and assistants Alex Jensen of the Utah Jazz and Juwan Howard of the Miami Heat. The Cavs have also received permission to interview Trail Blazers assistants David Vanterpool and Nate Tibbets and Denver Nuggets assistants Wes Unseld Jr. and Jordi Fernandez.
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