Bucks meeting with coaching finalists Mike Budenholzer, Ettore Messina

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Is Budenholzer the coach Giannis needs? (1:35)

Amin Elhassan sees Mike Budenholzer as a better fit to coach the Bucks in Milwaukee than the Raptors in Toronto. (1:35)

Milwaukee Bucks ownership is meeting Tuesday in New York with two finalists for the franchise's head coaching job -- Mike Budenholzer and Ettore Messina, league sources told ESPN.

Budenholzer is the front-runner for the job, and remains engaged in talks with Toronto and Milwaukee, league sources said.

Messina, a Spurs assistant and a decorated FIBA coach, has gathered significant momentum in the Bucks' interview process.

Messina has been one of the world's top coaches for decades, a legendary international coach with four EuroLeague championships as a head coach. Messina has coached such global powers as Benetton Treviso, Real Madrid and CSKA Moscow.

Messina interviewed for the Charlotte Hornets opening, too. Messina, 58, has been part of Gregg Popovich's Spurs staff since 2014. He previously had been an assistant with Los Angeles Lakers under Mike Brown.

The Raptors opened talks with Budenholzer over the weekend, and those conversations continued on Monday, league sources said.

After the dismissal of highly successful coach Dwane Casey, Toronto is selling the returning core of a 59-win Eastern Conference No. 1 seed, a past NBA Executive of the Year, Masai Ujiri and a streamlined ownership group with immense resources and a willingness to spend.

Milwaukee is selling a transcendent young star, Giannis Antetokounmpo, a solid supporting cast and the opening of a new downtown arena next season.

For Budenholzer, the Bucks and Raptors represent the opportunity to return to Eastern Conference contention. Budenholzer and the Atlanta Hawks parted ways in April, after the two sides could no longer see a path together with the franchise's rebuilding plans and new management structure.

Before the split, the Hawks gave Budenholzer permission to speak with the Phoenix Suns and New York Knicks for their coaching openings. He pulled out of contention for the Suns job after several conversations with ownership and management.

Considered one of the NBA's best tacticians, Budenholzer had been the Hawks president of basketball operations -- until surrendering front office control with the arrival of GM Travis Schlenk in the spring of 2017.

Budenholzer won his coach of the year award after a 60-victory regular season and a trip to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2016. The Hawks reached the playoffs in four of his first five seasons. Atlanta dropped to 24-58 this season, with the organization's mandate to shed salary and gather draft picks and future assets.

Budenholzer spent 17 years as an assistant under Spurs coach Popovich before his hiring in Atlanta in 2013. He won four NBA titles as a member of the Spurs' staff.