Friday, June 21, 2024

Dan Hurley turns down reported $70m offer to coach Los Angeles Lakers

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UConn coach Dan Hurley has turned down the opportunity to become the Los Angeles Lakers head coach.

After weighing his decision over the weekend, the Huskies head coach has decided pursue a third consecutive national championship with UConn. ESPN reported that Hurley had informed UConn of his interest in talking to the Lakers on 5 June and spoke to his players the next day. Hurley, who has never coached in the NBA, told ESPN that the Lakers offered a “compelling vision”.

“I am humbled by this entire experience,” Hurley said in a statement on Monday. “At the end of the day, I am extremely proud of the championship culture we have built at Connecticut. We met as a team before today’s workout and our focus right now is getting better this summer and connecting as a team as we continue to pursue championships.”

Hurley signed a six-year, $32m contract with UConn last year, but the Lakers reportedly offered him a massive contract – $70m over the same span as his Huskies deal – that would have made him one of the highest paid coaches in the NBA. After rebuffing the Lakers, Hurley is expected to sign a lucrative extension with the back-to-back national champions.

It is the latest twist in the month-long race to replace Darvin Ham, who was fired in May after two seasons with the Lakers.

The Lakers were knocked out of the first round of the playoffs, but the 17-time NBA champions filled the void during the week before the NBA finals with steady leaks about the progress of their search for a coach who can win a title – and almost as vitally – a coach who can entice LeBron James to finish his career in purple and gold. James is slated to be a free-agent in July, and the team had hoped the promise of a big-name coach would entice the future Hall of Famer to see out his career in LA.

The 39-year-old James just completed his 21st season while playing at a higher level than anyone with that much experience in basketball history, but he has until 29 June to decide whether to exercise his $51.4m player option for the 2024-25 season.

James could take the deal, could sign an even bigger new contract for more years – or he could become a free agent for the first time in six years.

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While 31-year-old Anthony Davis is the Lakers’ foundation with a long-term contract in Los Angeles, team owner Jeanie Buss and general manager Rob Pelinka are clearly determined to keep James alongside him for as long as possible – even floating their willingness to draft his son, Bronny, who just completed one brief collegiate season at USC and is eligible for selection in the 2024 draft.

The Lakers will now turn elsewhere in their coaching search. JJ Reddick, the ESPN analyst and podcast partner to James, had been a shock frontrunner for the job before Hurley’s name emerged, despite his lack of coaching experience. James Borrego, the respected former Charlotte Hornets coach and ex-Gregg Popovich assistant who spent last season on New Orleans’ staff, is also reportedly under consideration.

The team expects to have a new coach in place prior to the draft on 26 June.

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