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Dan Hurley Poised for Lakers Leap Amidst UConn’s Dynasty Run

Dan Hurley, the celebrated head coach of UConn men’s basketball team, is on the brink of a career-defining decision: whether to remain at UConn, chasing an unprecedented third consecutive NCAA title, or to leap into the NBA as the next head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers. The Lakers are reportedly preparing a massive, long-term contract offer to lure Hurley, a move that could significantly impact both the future of UConn’s basketball dynasty and the storied legacy of the Lakers franchise.

Hurley’s rise to prominence has been meteoric. After signing a six-year, $32.1 million contract extension with UConn last year, he led the Huskies to back-to-back national championships in 2023 and 2024. This contract, obtained by Sportico, outlines a substantial $7.5 million buyout if Hurley leaves for another NCAA job, contrasted with a $1.875 million buyout if he jumps to the NBA. This unique buyout structure reflects UConn’s intent to retain Hurley amidst increasing demand for his coaching prowess.

The Lakers’ interest in Hurley is not entirely surprising given his recent accomplishments. ESPN reported that the Lakers have had preliminary contact with Hurley, who has expressed a desire to explore the opportunity. The allure of coaching a team that includes LeBron James and the promise of a significant salary increase—potentially tripling his current earnings of just over $5 million annually—adds to the attractiveness of the offer.

Hurley’s coaching journey began at St. Benedict’s Prep in Newark, New Jersey, before he moved on to Wagner and then Rhode Island, where UConn paid a $1 million buyout to secure his services in 2018. Since then, Hurley has transformed UConn into a powerhouse, with a 141-58 record over six seasons and an unprecedented string of 12 consecutive double-digit NCAA tournament victories. His tactical acumen and ability to develop elite talent have made him a coveted figure in basketball.

However, transitioning to the NBA from college coaching comes with challenges. Hurley would be stepping into a high-pressure role, following the dismissal of Darvin Ham after a first-round playoff exit. The NBA’s intense media scrutiny and the demanding nature of an 82-game season present a stark contrast to the college game. Additionally, Hurley’s fiery sideline demeanor, while celebrated in college basketball, may need adjustment for the professional arena.

The Lakers, keen on maximizing their young core of players like Austin Reaves, Rui Hachimura, and Max Christie, believe Hurley’s coaching can drive further improvement. The potential inclusion of Bronny James in the draft, giving LeBron the chance to play alongside his son, adds another layer of intrigue to the Lakers’ pursuit of Hurley.

Hurley’s decision is reminiscent of Rick Pitino’s move from Kentucky to the Boston Celtics in 1997, a transition Pitino later expressed mixed feelings about. Unlike Pitino, Hurley’s career has been deeply rooted in the Northeast, raising questions about his fit with the Los Angeles lifestyle and the NBA’s unique demands.

Despite the temptations of the Lakers’ offer, Hurley’s commitment to UConn remains strong. Earlier this year, he joked about not wanting to ask his wife, a New Jersey native, to relocate again, emphasizing his focus on achieving a three-peat with the Huskies. Yet, the NBA’s allure persists, with Hurley acknowledging his long-term interest in the league, particularly the New York Knicks job, should it become available.

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