Presti’s Top 3 Choices for OKC Thunder: Donovan, Messina, Gentry

by Fred Pahlke | Posted on Friday, April 24th, 2015




OKC GM Sam Presti (Photo uncredited)

April 24, 2015


As the days turn in Oklahoma City, Thunder GM Sam Presti continues to ponder and contemplate which way he will go in picking the next head coach for his loaded team.

With the announcement that Kevin Ollie, current man at UConn will stay on the East Coast, three names now emerge as the leading candidates for the position. There is a better than not chance that one of the three will be finding a home on the South Plains.



Florida University Head Coach Billy Donovan (photo uncredited)

Florida University’s Billy Donovan, a two-time NCAA championship coach is the front runner in the national media. A friend of Presti, Donovan has some experience with the professional game as he has coached with Basketball USA during the summer months. Donovan accepted the job as head coach at Orlando of the NBA in 2007 but after a changing of mind, he never coached the Magic and stayed at Florida. He did agree not to coach in the NBA for five seasons in the breaking of the deal he had signed with them for over $27 million for five years. A strong x’s and o’s coach, improvement in that area would be an upgrade for the Thunder as former coach Scott Brooks was not a good situational coach late in games, including out-of-bounds plays and last second shots. Donovan is also good with his associations with players and should work well with super-stars Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant.


Ettore Messina, Assistant Coach of the San Antonio Spurs (Picture uncredited)

San Antonio assistant Ettore Messina is also very high on the list of replacements. The European coach from Italy has been Coach Greg Popovich’s top assistant since his hiring last summer for the San Antonio Spurs. Various European championships have labeled him as one of the best coaches in the world at any level. The 51 year old Messina would bring extensive experience to the Thunder in all categories. His hiring would be a solid one with the Thunder and he will be a head coach soon in the Association even if Presti doesn’t hire him.



Alvin Gentry, Assistant Gold State (picture uncredited)

The third solid choice for OKC would be former head coach and current Assistant at Golden State, Alvin Gentry. One of the best coaches of offense in the world, Gentry could transform OKC from an iso game offense with little ball movement into exciting fast break running team that would suit the Thunder with the great players on the roster. A no brainer for the game of Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant, Gentry would be the leader of the best offensive talent in the league. As a charismatic coach, Gentry is a man that the Thunder would play for with total respect. Gentry has been the head coach at Phoenix and his work in Golden State is responsible for the great offensive improvement of Steph Curry and Klay Thompson. They are not just great shooters but have learned to play a deadly offensive game with the sets that Gentry has introduced for the Warriors. Gentry is highly regarded in Association by all.

With time restraints and the playoffs currently underway, Presti’s choice might not be made until the end of the season. If Presti is looking at Gentry or Messina, we shall know as a decision would be late in coming, as the playoffs continue. If Donovan is the man, expect that decision sooner than later.

Missing the pick that Kevin Ollie would be the next coach in OKC, right now I would tend to think Donovan will be chosen by next week. Again, if Presti draws this out, look for Messina or Gentry to be the man. Personally speaking, Gentry or Messina would be the solid choice. Donovan would be the more risky one.

As for others that could/would be considered, Coach K at Duke will be called. So will Bill Self at Kansas. Mark Jackson, former Golden State coach is looked upon as a solid on court choice but his differences with management in the Bay area is not a positive. Anyone else would be a surprise pick and you cannot rule that out. Presti is the sort that could pull a rabbit out of a hat.

About the Author

Oklahoma native has viewed over 10,000 sporting events in his 61 years. A season ticket holder of the Oklahoma City Thunder and expert in both professional and college basketball and football. A graduate of Oklahoma City University. Elementary School Principal in the Oklahoma City Public Schools for 31 years.

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