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Who is Dan Hurley? Everything you need to know about the Lakers coaching candidate

June 7th, 2024

Surprise, surprise.

That echo you heard was the Lakers doubling down on the coach who just followed one dominant march through March with another.

Dan Hurley’s historic run through the last two NCAA tournaments with the UConn Huskies has apparently vaulted him to the top of the Lakers’ wish list as they seek a replacement for Darvin Ham.

His qualifications? Back-to-back championships while winning every game by double figures thanks to a buzzsaw offense and Amazon-like efficiency.

Here’s a look at the situation and what the Lakers might be getting should they land the 51-year-old:

Why would the Lakers be interested in Hurley?

Connecticut coach Dan Hurley reacts during a win over Purdue in the NCAA championship game on April 8.Connecticut coach Dan Hurley reacts during a win over Purdue in the NCAA championship game on April 8.

Connecticut coach Dan Hurley reacts during a win over Purdue in the NCAA championship game on April 8. (David J. Phillip / Associated Press)

Hurley is one of the hottest coaching commodities at any level after becoming the first college coach since Billy Donovan in 2006 and 2007 to win back-to-back college titles.

He’s known for strong player development and a dynamic motion offense that has already drawn praise from Lakers star LeBron James.

“He’s so DAMN GOOD!!!” James tweeted in reference to a recent JJ Redick podcast interview with Hurley. “Along with his staff. Super creative with their O! Love it.”

Hurley told Redick on that podcast that he designed his offense to keep defenses guessing because every possession creates possibilities for a shooter off a screen, a post player on the low block or an isolation opportunity for a drive to the basket.

Read more: Plaschke: Hurley up! The Lakers need to hire UConn champ Dan Hurley now

“So, out of each formation, any time we run it, the defense is going to have no idea whether it’s a post-up, something for a shooter or whatever it is,” Hurley said.

Hurley’s reputation for development could accelerate the growth of the Lakers’ young players and enhance the prospects for Bronny James should the team draft the former USC guard in the second round.

What would the appeal of this move be for Hurley?

Connecticut coach Dan Hurley reacts during a Big East quarterfinal game against Xavier on March 14.Connecticut coach Dan Hurley reacts during a Big East quarterfinal game against Xavier on March 14.

Connecticut coach Dan Hurley reacts during a Big East quarterfinal game against Xavier on March 14. (Frank Franklin II / Associated Press)

Have you seen the latest NBA coaching salaries?

Clippers coach Ty Lue recently signed a new deal that will pay him $14 million per year. Monty Williams will make a little over $13 million a year with Detroit. Mike Budenholzer is pocketing $10 million a year with Phoenix.

Should he take the Lakers job, Hurley could possibly double his reported $5.35-million annual salary. He would also assume what might be the glitziest job in basketball while giving himself a chance to show that he can succeed at the highest level of the game.

“UConn fits me perfectly,” Hurley said on the Mike Francesa podcast earlier this week. “I do aspire, one day if the right NBA situation were to come along, I do aspire to really testing myself. … if the right situation were an organization that wants a tone setter to come in, instill a culture, young players in an organization that wants to pursue championships.”

Just as important, Hurley also would no longer have to deal with the increasing headaches of the college game, including the chaotic transfer portal and relentless fundraising for name, image and likeness purposes.

In April, Hurley jokingly posted a picture of himself doubled over in anguish, clasping his head in his hands, alongside the caption, “Portal Update…”

How have college coaches fared making the transition to the NBA?

Boston Celtics president of basketball operations Brad Stevens speaks at a news conference in October.Boston Celtics president of basketball operations Brad Stevens speaks at a news conference in October.

With few exceptions, it’s been a legacy of failure for coaches who made the jump from the college game to basketball’s biggest stage.

You have to go back 20 years to find the last NBA coach to win a title — Detroit’s Larry Brown — who had previously been a major college head coach. Brown won a title with Kansas and took UCLA to the Final Four before accepting his first head coaching job with San Antonio in 1988.

Since Brown won it all with the Pistons in 2004, only three other coaches who won NBA titles had any experience at the college level. San Antonio’s Gregg Popovich was the coach at tiny Pomona-Pitzer, famously losing to Caltech before the Beavers went on to drop 310 consecutive conference games; Toronto’s Nick Nurse was coach at Grand View of the NAIA; and Denver’s Michael Malone had been a college assistant at three stops.

Read more: In a stunner, Lakers set to pursue UConn’s Dan Hurley for head coaching position

After winning his back-to-back titles, Donovan briefly accepted the Orlando Magic job only to back out and return to Florida for eight more seasons. Oklahoma City finally lured Donovan in 2015 and made the Western Conference finals in his first season. But over the last eight seasons, Donovan has not made it out of the first round of the playoffs with the Thunder or the Chicago Bulls.

Other big-name college coaches — Brad Stevens, John Calipari, Rick Pitino, P.J. Carlesimo, Mike Montgomery — all posted worse winning percentages in the NBA than they had in college, none winning titles at the higher level.

There is precedent for a UConn coach winning the national title and going on to coach in the NBA. Kevin Ollie won a championship with the Huskies in 2014 before joining the Brooklyn Nets as an assistant before last season. He was promoted to interim coach after the All-Star break and guided the Nets to an 11-17 record the rest of the season.

What’s Hurley’s personality like?

Connecticut coach Dan Hurley celebrates after the Huskies' victory over Purdue.Connecticut coach Dan Hurley celebrates after the Huskies' victory over Purdue.

Connecticut coach Dan Hurley celebrates after the Huskies’ victory over Purdue in the NCAA men’s basketball championship game on April 8. (David J. Phillip / Associated Press)

Like anyone who shares his surname as part of basketball’s feistiest family, Hurley is driven. He has to be.

His father, Bob Hurley Sr., won 26 state championships on the way to becoming only the third high school coach inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. His brother, Bobby, helped take down mighty Nevada Las Vegas while winning back-to-back titles as a player at Duke.

Dan played for his father while competing in the considerable shadow of his brother. Later, as a point guard at Seton Hall, Dan heard fans taunt him for not being as good as his brother. He’s said in interviews there were times he also didn’t feel like he was living up to the standard set by his father.

Now he might have a chance to eclipse them both by becoming the first member of his family to win an NBA title.

Behind the basketball smarts is an incredibly intense man with several quirks. He has a lucky pair of red boxers with cartoon dragons and another adorned with dragons. He drinks mushroom blend coffee two hours before games and has another round at the ready along the sideline. He won’t leave the locker room until one minute before tipoff.

After winning his first title with the Huskies in 2023, Hurley acknowledged his battle with panic attacks to Seth Davis, telling the veteran writer and broadcaster that Hurley fought his anxiety through meditation, prayer, therapy, exercise, reading and keeping a journal.

Hurley’s animated sideline demeanor has drawn criticism because he’s been known to challenge referees and confront fans, actions that would be far less tolerated in the NBA than they are in college.

Why might returning to UConn be attractive for Hurley?

There’s still historic possibilities for Hurley at the college level. The Huskies could become the first team to win three national titles in a row since John Wooden guided UCLA to seven consecutive championships from 1967-73.

There’s also no denying that Hurley’s honeymoon with his team is likely to endure for many years even with the occasional down season. While four of five starters from last season’s team are departing, Hurley has brought in transfers Tarris Reed Jr. (Michigan) and Aidan Mahaney (Saint Mary’s) and three talented freshmen to supplement a promising core of returning players.

Hurley could go for the three-peat — or go to the franchise that trademarked that term in 1989 thanks to coach Pat Riley as the Lakers unsuccessfully sought a third consecutive title.

The Lakers have been notoriously impatient with coaches, cycling through five in the last decade. They dismissed Frank Vogel two years after he won a title and Ham the year after he advanced to the conference finals.

Whoever coaches the Lakers is only as good as his last season. That’s why Hurley might be doubly attractive to the franchise that only celebrates championships.

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.

This content was originally sourced and posted at Yahoo! Sports – News, Scores, Standings, Rumors, Fantasy Games »
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