Andrey Vatutin

International Notes: Messina, Italy, Euro Salaries

Olimpia Milano president and head coach Ettore Messina doesn’t think that the EuroLeague will resume, Emiliano Carchia of Sportando relays. Messina, a former Spurs assistant, made his comments to RaiSport.

“A resumption of the EuroLeague season looks very difficult to me,” Messina said. “Maybe in a more normal situation, in two-three months. But it is something you can’t plan now. Thinking about 18 European teams flying from one country to another or players coming back from USA seems very unlikely.”

We have more from the basketball world:

  • There’s a good chance that the Italian Basketball League will play without fans in the stands for at least the remainder of the calendar year if and when it resumes, Carchia writes in another story. According to Mediaset, the Italian government may not allow any spectators at sporting events until at least January. That could be a financial disaster for Italy’s basketball clubs, many of whom rely on ticket sales, Carchia adds.
  • CSKA Moscow president Andrey Vatutin said EuroLeague clubs need to come up with salary compromises with its players, according to a Sportando post. Nikola Milutinov, a Spurs draft-and-stash prospect, has reportedly agreed to a three-year deal with the Moscow club. “Everything in the economy is crashing down, restrictions are being extended, and CSKA confidently throws millions from the bedside table. Because of quarantine and self-isolation, I don’t remember the last time I picked up a pen in order to sign something,” Vatutin said. “For CSKA, as for all Euroleague clubs, it’s now more important to find a compromise on salaries with current players.”
  • The Pelicans reportedly have their eyes on a guard who plays for Maccabi Tel Aviv. Get the details here.

Assistant GM Frank Zanin To Run Nets Front Office

Assistant GM Frank Zanin is in charge of the Brooklyn front office in the wake of the team’s removal of Billy King from the GM role, owner Mikhail Prokhorov said in a press conference today, notes Andy Vasquez of The Record (Twitter link). The owner said he’ll be in contact with Zanin every day if necessary, as NetsDaily relays (on Twitter). Prokhorov will continue to search for a permanent front office chief, as well as a new coach, and said he will spend more time in the U.S. rather than his home in Russia as he does so, though he cautioned that he’s in no hurry to fill the team’s vacancies, according to TNT’s David Aldridge (Twitter link).

The February 18th trade deadline is less than six weeks away, so Zanin will be busy. He’s a discipline of King’s, having gotten his start in the NBA as a video intern with the Sixers while King was the GM of that team. He later served as video coordinator, scout and assistant coach for Philadelphia before rejoining King in Brooklyn. He became one of two assistant GMs in 2013/14, and this season served as the club’s sole assistant GM after the team elected not to retain Bobby Marks.

Prokhorov said he has no plans to hire CSKA Moscow team president Andrey Vatutin, who had been rumored as his top choice to replace King, tweets Brian Lewis of the New York Post. The owner also indicated a preference for a separate GM and coach, which would seem to cast doubt on the idea of the team hiring John Calipari, another rumored candidate, observes Chris Mannix of (on Twitter). Still, Prokhorov declined to address the notion of Calipari’s candidacy, aside from calling him a “great coach,” as Lewis relays (Twitter link).

Nets Eye Andrey Vatutin To Replace King As GM?

WEDNESDAY, 8:25am: One insider was particularly direct in casting doubt on the idea of Vatutin joining the Nets as their GM this summer, calling it “BS,” NetsDaily tweets.

1:13pm: Team insiders who spoke with NetsDaily see Vatutin as an unlikely choice for GM (Twitter link).

TUESDAY, 11:22am: CSKA Moscow team president Andrey Vatutin is Mikhail Prokhorov’s “top choice” to become the GM of the Nets with Billy King‘s contract up at season’s end, sources tell Aris Barkas of Vatutin has ties to Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov, who used to own the Russian team. He worked under Prokhorov and former CSKA president Sergey Kushchenko, now a Nets board member and chief sports adviser to Prokhorov, as NetsDaily points out. The Nets pursued Vatutin for an assistant GM job in 2010, the year King became GM, but Vatutin turned them down, according to Barkas and NetsDaily.

It’s unclear whether Vatutin would decide to head to Brooklyn this time around, as Barkas details. The Eurohoops scribe suggests that Prokhorov has already offered the GM job to Vatutin, though Prokhorov complimented King’s job performance as recently as October. The owner at that point declined to address the matter of an extension for King, though Zach Lowe of heard “serious rumblings” in May that the Nets and King were close to an extension deal. NetsDaily poured cold water on the idea shortly thereafter, reporting that a source had said the Nets and King hadn’t engaged in any extension talks.

Brooklyn, at 10-24, has the NBA’s third-worst record and is without its first-round picks in 2016 and 2018, thanks to the 2013 trade King engineered that brought in Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce. Still, Prokhorov, who was the impetus for the team’s desire to make a splash upon its 2012 move from New Jersey to Brooklyn, said in April that he liked King’s “bold” approach to the roster. The Nets stuck by King when former coach Jason Kidd reportedly tried to usurp his power in 2014.

The Nets have nonetheless won only a single playoff series in the five full seasons since King came aboard. Brooklyn has a chance to open some $35MM in cap room for next season, but without draft picks or a winning roster, the team doesn’t appear to be a top free agent destination.

The 42-year-old Vatutin has been with CSKA Moscow since 2002 and became the organization’s CEO in 2007. The Russian powerhouse has collected a litany of championships since then, as Barkas details. The team is 14-1 in Russian league play and 9-2 in the Euroleague this season.