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The Los Angeles Lakers are preparing a massive, long-term contract offer for UConn men’s basketball coach Dan Hurley, aiming to bring the back-to-back NCAA national champion to the NBA. Sources told ESPN that the Lakers have had preliminary contact with Hurley, and discussions are expected to escalate in the coming days.

The Lakers’ Selection Process

Lakers Vice President of Basketball Operations and General Manager Rob Pelinka, along with Governor Jeanie Buss, are eager to formally discuss with Hurley their vision of combining his tactical acumen and elite player development with the storied Lakers brand. Hurley, 51, has expressed his ambition to coach in the NBA and has shown significant interest in exploring the full scope of a partnership with one of basketball’s winningest franchises.

Hurley informed UConn players during practice on Thursday that the Lakers had contacted him and that he was listening to their proposal. This pursuit comes on the 20th anniversary of the Lakers’ attempt to hire then-Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski, who ultimately chose to remain with the Blue Devils. The landscape of college athletics has since changed dramatically, with increased demands for NIL fundraising making the prospect of moving to the NBA more appealing.

Lakers’ Star Players’ Views on Hurley

Lakers star LeBron James has been impressed with Hurley’s sophisticated offensive strategies. Assuming James returns to LA in free agency, the potential of drafting USC freshman guard Bronny James with the 55th pick in this month’s NBA draft makes Hurley an even more intriguing candidate. James praised Hurley on social media, saying, “He’s so DAMN GOOD!!! Along with his staff. Super creative with their [offense]. Love it.”

James has not had any conversations with the Lakers about Hurley or the coaching search in general. Through his representatives, James has made it clear that the Lakers should make the best decision for the organization, considering a coach who will be with the team beyond his playing career. The Lakers are also involving All-NBA forward Anthony Davis in the coaching discussions, ensuring alignment on how the new coach plans to feature him on both offense and defense.

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Other Candidates and Hurley’s Appeal

The Lakers have interviewed several other candidates, including New Orleans Pelicans assistant James Borrego, JJ Redick, Boston Celtics assistant Sam Cassell, and Denver Nuggets assistant David Adelman. While these discussions have continued, Hurley has been the primary focus of the Lakers’ search.

Part of Hurley’s appeal is tied to the changing landscape of NBA roster building under the collective bargaining agreement. With new roster-building limitations, the ability of big-market teams to trade multiple draft picks and young players for a third star has been reduced. Beyond the 17th pick in this month’s draft, the Lakers have a young core of Austin Reaves, Rui Hachimura, and Max Christie, whom management believes can improve further under Hurley’s coaching.

Hurley’s Coaching Achievements

Hurley has led UConn to historically dominant back-to-back national titles, emerging as the most coveted coach in college basketball. His team achieved the NCAA’s first repeat championship in 17 years, with a tournament performance that produced a record point differential of 140 points. Despite the prospect of UConn winning a third straight title with a preseason top-five team, Hurley is considering the Lakers’ offer amid the departure of key players to the NBA draft.

The Lakers dismissed coach Darvin Ham following a first-round exit in the Western Conference playoffs. Ham had a 94-70 record in two seasons, including a trip to the Western Conference finals in 2023. Hurley, with a record of 141-58 (.709) in six seasons at UConn and an NCAA tournament record of 12 consecutive double-digit victories, represents a promising candidate for the Lakers. His background includes playing for his father, Naismith Hall of Fame coach Bob Hurley Sr., and successfully rebuilding programs at Wagner and Rhode Island before his tenure at UConn.

The possibility of Hurley leaving UConn for the Lakers has significant implications for both college basketball and the NBA. The Lakers hope to capitalize on his proven success and innovative coaching style to lead the team to future championships.(Superace88)