10:59am: Sources tell NetsDaily they believe Udoka is the leading candidate. It appears the team is poised to formally cut ties with Tony Brown and his assistant coaches as well as several long-time staffers as Marks plans to hire as many as 10 new staff members, NetsDaily also hears (All Twitter links).
8:25am: Brett Brown, who reportedly isn’t assured of keeping his job with the Sixers, along with Luke Walton, Mark Jackson, Vinny Del Negro and Bucks assistant Sean Sweeney are also in the mix for the Nets job, according to Brian Lewis of the New York Post. The prospect of Brown having the interim tag removed and staying in the head coaching job is no more than a long shot, Lewis adds. Lewis also suggests the Nets still have Mike Conley atop their list of free agent targets.
4:01pm: Hawks assistant Kenny Atkinson has been mentioned as a possibility for the Nets’ coaching vacancy, and he and Marks share the same agent, Mazzeo tweets.
3:00pm: The increasing belief in coaching circles is that neither Tom Thibodeau nor David Blatt will be a candidate for the job, but the search is only just beginning, writes Mike Mazzeo of ESPN.com.
12:47pm: The Nets have interest in NBA coaching veteran Jeff Van Gundy and Spurs assistants Ettore Messina and Ime Udoka for their head coaching job, sources tell Marc Stein of ESPN.com (Twitter links). Tony Brown is Brooklyn’s head coach on an interim basis, though it’s unclear whether he’ll have a legitimate shot to remain in the position for next season.
Van Gundy’s name frequently comes up in connection to NBA coaching jobs even though he hasn’t coached an NBA team since the 2006/07 season, his last with the Rockets. Frank Isola of the New York Daily News speculated shortly before the team hired GM Sean Marks in February that Messina would become a candidate if the team indeed brought aboard Marks, who was then serving as a Spurs executive. Marks’ tie to the Spurs also explains the interest in Udoka, who was key to the recruitment of former teammate LaMarcus Aldridge this past summer. Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov has often talked about attracting stars to Brooklyn, and the team has no shortage of cap flexibility for the summer ahead.
Many New York fans still have fond memories of Van Gundy from his time as coach of the crosstown Knicks from 1996-2001, and he’s maintained a high profile as a broadcaster for ABC and ESPN. He reportedly interviewed for the Pelicans head coaching vacancy last year.
Messina has worked for Prokhorov before, when Prokhorov was the owner of CSKA Moscow and Messina was leading the team to two Euroleague championships as head coach. The Spurs hired Messina as an assistant two years ago, and he also served as a coaching consultant for the Lakers in 2011/12, but much of his reputation comes from overseas, where he was one of the most successful coaches in Euroleague history. The Thunder reportedly made him a candidate for their head coaching job a year ago.
Udoka is a veteran of eight NBA seasons as a player, and his last playing contract was with the Nets, who signed him in the 2011 preseason and cut him before opening night. The Spurs hired him as an assistant coach the following summer.