Dan Hurley spurns Lakers, staying at UConn

Dan Hurley spurns Lakers, staying at UConn

Dan Hurley was never leaving UConn to take the head coaching job for the Los Angeles Lakers. We all know this, right?

When ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski broke this story about the Lakers courting Hurley last Thursday before Game 1 of the NBA Finals, it smelled from the start. In further reporting of the story throughout the weekend, WOJ claimed that this courtship had been going on for a period of weeks.

Oh, really? And Hurley didn’t want to mention that to star player Alex Karaban before he decided to withdraw from the NBA Draft two weeks ago?

The Lakers moved on from Darvin Ham more than five weeks ago. Hurley’s season ended nine weeks ago. The timing just makes zero sense.

And since when is Hurley a West coast guy? He played high school basketball for his father at St. Anthony’s High School in Jersey City, New Jersey. Then he played in college at Seton Hall.

Next, Hurley was an assistant for his old man at St. Anthony’s before spending 1997-2001 as an assistant at Rutgers. Since then, Hurley has been a head coach at St. Benedict’s Prep High School (Newark, N.J.), Wagner, Rhode Island and UConn.

But instead of trying to three-peat at UConn, Hurley was suddenly going to bolt college basketball to go live on the West coast and deal with LeBron’s drama, Anthony Davis’s injuries and whether or not to draft Bronny James? Oh, and he wants to work under Rob Pelinka and Jeanie Buss?

Like I said, it was never happening.

Whatever the case, Hurley officially turned down the six-year, $70 million contract offer from the Lakers on Monday, opting instead to return to UConn and chase a third consecutive national championship.

In a statement released Monday afternoon, Hurley said, “I am humbled by this entire experience. 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.”

The lucrative offer from the Lakers would have made Hurley one of the NBA’s six highest-paid coaches. Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont told reporters Monday that the state “will make sure he’s the top paid college coach.” He’s in negotiation talks with the Huskies that remain ongoing.

UConn athletic director David Benedict released a statement to share his feelings on Hurley remaining in Storrs.

“He has helped return our men’s basketball program back to the pinnacle of the sport, including back-to-back NCAA Championships, and we’re grateful for his loyalty to UConn,” Benedict said. “We look forward to Dan’s continued leadership on and off the court at UConn. He will continue to bring great pride to Husky fans everywhere as we work toward a three-peat.”

This failed bid by the organization to hire an elite college coach in the 51-year-old Hurley comes 20 years after a similar pursuit of Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski in the summer of 2004.

Hurley had already spurned an offer from the University of Kentucky to replace John Calipari back in April.

Hurley has taken UConn to four consecutive NCAA Tournaments, compiling a 141-58 overall record (70.9%) and a 71-41 mark in Big East play (63.4%) during his six-year tenure. He was Rhode Island’s HC for six seasons before landing the UConn gig. Hurley went 113-82 (57.9%) for the Rams, taking them to the Round of 32 during consecutive trips to the NCAA Tournament in his final two years.

Hurley’s first college HC job was at Wagner, where he posted a 25-6 record in his second and final season. In 14 years as a HC, Hurley owns a 292-163 overall record (64.2%), including a 14-4 mark in 18 NCAA Tournament games.

FanDuel has the Huskies listed as the 10/1 co-favorites with Kansas to win the 2025 NCAA Tournament. No school has won three straight national titles since John Wooden’s UCLA teams in the 1970s.

As for the Lakers, do they look a little foolish here? Maybe. Maybe not.

Did the Lakers orchestrate this whole thing to prove to their critics that they just aren’t going to hire whoever LeBron demands they hire?

Other potential candidates that have been linked to their opening include ESPN’s JJ Redick and New Orleans Pelicans assistant James Borrego. Redick and James are buddies.

If hiring Redick, who has never coached before, ends up being a poor move, now the Lakers can claim they tried to make a home-run hire before taking a chance on LeBron’s podcast pal. But if they were serious about hiring Hurley, why offer only $70 million?

I’m not saying that Hurley won’t eventually make a move to the NBA. If (when?) he does, though, it’ll be to coach in the Northeast for the Knicks, Nets, 76ers or Celtics.

Hurley wasn’t moving to Tinseltown.

Not now.

Not ever.