PHOENIX SUNS

Dan Hurley is primary target in Lakers’ search for head coach, per report

Jun 6, 2024, 8:32 AM

Dan Hurley high-fives Donovan Clingan of UConn...

Donovan Clingan #32 and head coach Dan Hurley of the Connecticut Huskies celebrate in the second half against the Alabama Crimson Tide in the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament Final Four semifinal game at State Farm Stadium on April 06, 2024 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

(Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

UConn head men’s basketball coach Dan Hurley, the younger brother of Arizona State’s Bobby Hurley, is the primary target for the Los Angeles Lakers in their search for a new head coach, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

The team is preparing a “massive” deal to present to Hurley. The Lakers are expected to have deeper discussions “in the coming days” to persuade Hurley to leave UConn, where he has won consecutive national championships.

Wojnarowski adds Hurley and the Lakers have held preliminary talks, and the UConn coach has been the No. 1 target as the team has met with others, such as former NBA player J.J. Redick and former Charlotte Hornets head coach James Borrego.

Los Angeles fired second-year head coach Darvin Ham after a first-round playoff exit this year.

Since the final buzzer sounded with the Huskies winning the championship in April, Hurley, 51, has been adamant about returning and staying at UConn for the longhaul.

While the Huskies lost center Donovan Clingan and guard Stephon Castle, who are likely lottery picks in the draft, Hurley saw Alex Karaban pull out of the draft and then landed Saint Mary’s transfer Aidan Mahaney. All-in-all, they are viewed as a top-10 team.

UConn had so far survived keeping Hurley despite overtures from the likes of Kentucky, which was seeking to replace John Calipari after his move to Arkansas.

“My answer to that (Kentucky interest) was ‘no.’ I’m the head coach at the best program in the country,” Hurley told The Dan Patrick Show in April. “Why would I leave the best program in the country even if another place is really good or great? But your agent wants you to try to deflect.

“You want to reward your staff, you want to increase the resources in your program. So your agent is kind of telling you: ‘Don’t say you’re interested but don’t say no because I’ve got to deal with the UConn people.'”

Hurley and UConn are currently in extension negotiations that Hurley addressed on Wednesday night.

Like his brother Bobby, Dan Hurley had leaned into the changing ways of college basketball despite complaints — which have been filtered through his humor — about the transfer portal and NIL.

But in the NBA, Hurley would bring immediate credibility because of his offensive sets that play to the pace of the NBA. His UConn team also competed on the defensive end, and the combination of all those things saw UConn’s closest deficit during a six-game tournament run end up as a 14-point win over Alabama in the Final Four.

UConn’s execution and complexities of their offense drew eyes from NBA perspectives, most notably from Redick and his current podcast partner, Lakers star LeBron James.

Los Angeles has approached their search with an emphasis on building beyond the James era, and Hurley’s potential development of players like Austin Reaves and Max Christie is being considered here.

The question would be whether Hurley’s brash, in-your-face style will be subdued while working with older players and NBA stars.

According to ESPN Stats & Info, UConn was third in Division I basketball with 25 technical fouls since Hurley arrived there in 2018-19. To paint the picture of his fire, Hurley was shoving his own player while stepping on the court in the final three minutes of the national championship game when his team led by 15 points in April.

 

Hurley, whose father Bob Hurley Sr. is a Hall of Fame High School coach in New Jersey, got his start as an assistant at Rutgers from 1997-2001.

He coached the next decade at St. Benedict’s prep before jumping into college as head coach at Wagner (2010-12) and Rhode Island (2012-18). Bobby Hurley coached as an assistant to Dan at both schools until he took the Buffalo head-coaching job from 2013-15. Bobby Hurley left for the Arizona State job in 2015.

Will the college basketball fallout of Dan Hurley leaving UConn reach Arizona?

If Hurley does take the Lakers job, it’s not wild to assume the fallout could impact the teams in Arizona, in some fashion.

UConn’s talented returning roster would be at risk of dissolving.

Arizona State Sun Devil fans could hope Hurley sends some players his brother’s way. You could look at Mahaney, who is from Campolindo High School in California, as a dream candidate and floor general for a rebuilt Sun Devil squad.

Arizona Wildcat fans are coming from the Jedd Fisch-to-Washington trauma that began with a college coaching legend, Nick Saban, stepping away on the football side. They might hope their head basketball coach Tommy Lloyd, isn’t viewed as a candidate to replace Hurley out East. That would be viewed as a longshot since Lloyd is from the Pacific Northwest and doesn’t have the postseason resume to wow UConn boosters.

But some former Arizona coaches might be the new faces of UConn.

Current Huskies assistant Luke Murray, the son of Bill Murray, could be viewed as a legitimate in-house replacement option. He was a graduate assistant under Sean Miller at Arizona from 2009-10 and worked with both Hurleys at Wagner in 2010-11.

Miller’s name might be floated, too, though he’s coming off a 16-18 season, the second year of his second stint at Xavier.

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