Spurs assistants on radar as Nets set to begin coaching search

NEW YORK -- The Brooklyn Nets are set to launch their coaching search soon and have interest in San Antonio Spurs assistant coaches Ettore Messina and Ime Udoka as well as former New York Knicks coach Jeff Van Gundy to fill the vacancy, sources told ESPN.com's Marc Stein on Wednesday.

There is a rising belief in NBA coaching circles that the Nets will not be in the mix for Tom Thibodeau or David Blatt, but sources say the search process is still evolving and only in its infancy.

Brooklyn ownership is in town, presumably for -- among other things -- postseason meetings. The Nets (20-61) are set to wrap up a disappointing 2015-16 campaign on Wednesday night against the Toronto Raptors.

New Brooklyn GM Sean Marks has ties to both Messina and Udoka from his time in the San Antonio, while Van Gundy, currently an NBA television analyst at ESPN, could bring cachet and previous playoff success in New York to the fallen franchise.

Messina coached CSKA Moscow while it was owned by Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov. Udoka played 316 NBA games -- including two seasons in San Antonio -- before eventually finding his way back to the Spurs as a member of the coaching staff.

No Nets coach has lasted two consecutive full seasons since the team moved to Brooklyn in 2012-13. Lionel Hollins was fired on Jan. 10 and was replaced with Tony Brown on an interim basis for the remainder of the season.

The Nets, who have the NBA's third-worst record, need significant roster upgrades. They will have about $40 million in cap space over the summer but do not hold total control over their own first-round draft pick until 2019. Brooklyn owes its unprotected 2016 first-round pick to Boston -- it could end up being the No. 1 overall pick -- and has to swap 2016 second-rounders with the Los Angeles Clippers because Los Angeles will not finish with a top-five record.