Dan Hurley, Lakers met Friday about coaching job

UConn coach Dan Hurley traveled to Southern California for a Friday meeting with Los Angeles Lakers vice president of basketball operations Rob Pelinka and owner Jeanie Buss — with the organization eager to close on a deal to hire the two-time national championship coach.

The Lakers’ pursuit of Hurley to become the franchise’s next coach has accelerated and the sides are already discussing the contractual parameters of a potential deal that would be significant in its length and salary, sources said.

Hurley has not made a decision regarding exiting UConn for the NBA, but there is momentum in these discussions, sources said. He informed UConn’s administration Wednesday of his interest in talking to the Lakers — and his players of the talks on Thursday, sources said.

UConn has won back-to-back NCAA titles — including a record 12 consecutive double-digit tournament victories — and has a top-five team returning next season.

Hurley has been at the forefront of the Lakers’ search from the beginning of the process, even while the organization has done its due diligence interviewing several other candidates, sources said. Only New Orleans Pelicans assistant James Borrego had two in-person interviews in Los Angeles, sources said.

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Pelinka and Buss are eager to formally discuss with Hurley their vision of marrying his dominant program — built upon his tactical acumen and elite player development — with the storied Lakers brand, sources said.

Hurley, 51, has often described his ambition to one day coach in the NBA and has expressed to the Lakers a desire to explore the full picture of a partnership with one of basketball’s winningest franchises, sources said.

The pursuit of Hurley comes on the 20th anniversary of the Lakers trying to hire Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski to a record-breaking contract in 2004.

Krzyzewski elected to stay at Duke, but the climate has dramatically changed in college athletics, and the demands of NIL fundraising for non-power-football schools such as UConn are an especially relentless grind — and expected to become even more difficult.

As for the Lakers’ stars, LeBron James has been impressed with Hurley’s sophisticated offensive actions, and assuming he returns to Los Angeles in free agency, the possibility of using the 55th overall draft pick on USC freshman guard Bronny James makes Hurley an even more intriguing candidate. If that happens, James gets an opportunity to play with his son and the benefit of Hurley and his staff becoming responsible for Bronny’s pro development.

In a social media post in April responding to a podcast interview with JJ Redick, James posted on X about Hurley: “He’s so DAMN GOOD!!! Along with his staff. Super creative with their [offense]! Love it.”

The Lakers have been committed to making All-NBA forward Anthony Davis a significant part of the conversation on the next head coach and want to make sure that he is aligned with how a new coach plans to feature him on offense and defense, sources said.

Los Angeles has proceeded with conversations with other candidates over the past few weeks, but the potential of landing Hurley has been the focus of the search.

Part of the allure of Hurley traces back to the changing landscape of NBA roster building under the collective bargaining agreement. Because of the roster-building limitations of the new second apron, the ability of big-market teams to construct contending rosters by trading multiple draft picks and young players for a third star player has largely been eliminated.

Beyond the 17th overall pick in the June draft, the Lakers have a young core of Austin Reaves, Rui Hachimura and Max Christie that management believes could show even greater improvement under Hurley’s coaching.

After historically dominant back-to-back national title seasons, Hurley has emerged as the most coveted coach in the sport — and the possibility of him leaving UConn and the Big East for the Lakers has massive implications for college basketball and the NBA. Hurley has constructed a juggernaut that has lapped the sport, culminating with the NCAA’s first repeat champion in 17 years and a performance that produced the biggest point differential in tournament history at 140 points.

The possibility of UConn winning a third consecutive title does loom with the return of a preseason top-five team, but the Huskies did lose two lottery picks (center Donovan Clingan and guard Stephon Castle) and a first-team All-American point guard (Tristan Newton) to the NBA draft.

The Lakers dismissed coach Darvin Ham after a first-round exit in the Western Conference playoffs. Ham was 94-70 in two seasons, including a trip to the Western Conference finals in 2023.

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