Dan Hurley’s candidacy surprised some inside the Lakers, but it makes sense.

The shocking news of the Los Angeles Lakers and Connecticut coach Dan Hurley being in contact with the Lakers head coaching vacancy shocked many in the NBA.

The organization’s contact on Hurley was first reported by ESPN and confirmed Thursday Athletic It was kept secret from the public and many key Lakers decision makers, by team and league sources.

Within some internal conversations, Hurley’s name started coming up as recently as last week, team and league sources said. Athletic. At the time, the possibility of Hurley being the team’s next head coach seemed remote. ESPN analyst and former player JJ Redick is seen by many in the NBA and the Lakers organization as the front-runner, and New Orleans Pelicans associate coach James Borrego is also under consideration. Maintained a strong relationship with All-NBA big man Anthony Davis.

Now, after leading Connecticut to back-to-back national championships, Hurley has emerged as a legitimate candidate, if not the favorite.

Team and league sources cautioned that the coaching search remains unresolved. Lakers vice president of basketball operations and general manager Rob Belinka and governor Jeanie Buss will interview Hurley on Friday, the most formal in the league. Sources confirmed. The 51-year-old still has a chance to sign a new contract with Connecticut and become college basketball’s best coach. Hurley signed a six-year, $32.1 million contract with Connecticut after the 2023 championship season. His buyout to join the NBA was approximately $1.9 million.

Redick, who has been considered the frontrunner for several weeks, is a potential candidate, according to league sources.

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Hurley’s profile is appealing to the Lakers. He checks many of the boxes the Lakers are looking for during this process. He is considered a tireless worker who is organized and disciplined. He’s a proven tactician, running one of the best offenses in college basketball. He helped lead UConn back to glory after nearly a decade without advancing to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. He is also sharp in player development and is known as a strong culture builder with a fiery personality.

It’s unclear how Los Angeles’ stars feel about Hurley’s ability to coach the team. Davis’ input is at the heart of the Lakers’ search, and he has a solid connection with Borrego, whom he briefly overlapped with in New Orleans. James tweeted his support for Hurley’s offensive style in April — responding to an interview between Redick and Hurley on Redick’s “Old Man & The Three” podcast. James has a $51.4 million player option next season.

According to legendary former Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski, several Sources, who has become a respected unofficial adviser to the Lakers during the hiring process, has a strong relationship with Hurley. Krzyzewski coached Hurley’s older brother Bobby at Duke from 1989 to 1993, winning back-to-back championships in 1991 and 1992. In March, Don Hurley Krzyzewski said he pushed him Enter the UConn job in 2018, and the two should talk at least twice a year.

Although Krzyszewski has ties to Redick, who played under him at Duke from 2002 to 2006, his relationship with Hurley and his trust in him were among the many factors that led the Lakers to pursue him aggressively. , according to team and league sources.

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Krzyzewski’s history with the Lakers dates back to 2004, when then-owner Dr. Jerry Buss made a strong offer to recruit him from Duke, which ultimately fell through. The Lakers tried to lure Krzyzewski with a five-year, $40 million contract, an astronomical figure for a coach at the time. The market reset with coaches like Steve Kerr, Erik Spoelstra, Monty Williams and Mike Budenholzer commanding eight-figure annual contracts.

Time will tell if history repeats itself if Hurley also returns to UConn at a higher salary, or if he accepts a lucrative offer to leave Storrs, Conn., to coach one of the NBA’s legacy franchises across the country. Despite the shock of Thursday’s developments, the latest curveball still doesn’t solve the Lakers’ ongoing coaching search.

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