How hiring UConn’s Dan Hurley could impact the Los Angeles Lakers, LeBron James and Bronny

A month after firing Darvin Ham, the Lakers are turning their attention to their next head coach. Sources told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski that Los Angeles is preparing a massive, long-term contract offer to pry two-time NCAA champion Dan Hurley away from the University of Connecticut. What would such a monumental hire mean for the Lakers – and the future of superstar LeBron James, who could become a free agent this summer? Our NBA and college basketball experts break down what we know and what could happen in the coming days and weeks.

Why are the Lakers targeting Hurley, a coach with no NBA experience?

It’s a bold and creative option that reflects where college basketball is in the NIL era, where the NBA is with its new collective bargaining agreement and where the Lakers are after finding coaches over the past decade. (They haven’t had a coach in more than three seasons since Phil Jackson.) There’s no perfect pick, but this one would be a high-risk, high-reward option with a coach of undoubted talent.

The other candidates, one of whom may yet get the job since Hurley is not a done deal yet, represent some of these qualities. JJ Redick has shown great innovation and depth in X’s and O’s and has credibility with players. James Borrego has the most experience and has proven effective at this level. Sam Cassell is well-liked as an assistant, has a star-studded relationship and has a Championship resume. Hurley’s profile is different, but his star has never been higher.

–Brian Windhorst

What would Hurley bring to the Lakers? How would his coaching style translate to the NBA?

In recent years, Hurley has established himself as one of the best player development coaches and tactical minds in college basketball. After his first national championship at UConn, he had two players selected in the 2023 NBA draft, including lottery pick Jordan Hawkins, who saw dramatic improvement from Year 1 to Year 2 under Hurley. This year he had five players invited to the NBA draft combination and was able to get the first two college players picked in Donovan Clingan and Stephon Castle – neither of whom were in this position when they arrived in Storrs.

From a tactical perspective, he has developed perhaps the best offense in college basketball, based on off-ball movement and three-point shooting. It’s a big change from his offenses at Rhode Island and his early days at UConn, and represents the ability to adapt his X’s and O’s to the modern game. The offensive principles he uses also translate well to the NBA.

The biggest question about Hurley’s coaching style comes from an emotional standpoint. He is infamous for his sideline notes towards referees (and sometimes opposing crowds) and his practices are incredibly loud, intense and filled with a large number of choice words. Hurley’s intensity has translated into plenty of success in high school and at the college level and would be difficult to completely change at age 51, but he might have to turn it around for the NBA.

— Jeff Borzello

What would hiring Hurley mean for LeBron James?

For starters, it would mark his fourth coach in seven years with the Lakers, after playing for five different coaches during his first fifteen years in the league. And it would mean his second straight coach, after Darvin Ham, would be coaching him without any NBA head coaching experience on his resume.

James has already endorsed Hurley’s acumen, posting on Matching wits with James’ basketball mentality has always been the key to a good partnership and is something James values ​​as much, if not more, than a coach’s organizational skills and demeanor.

Of course, the idea that Hurley’s fiery attitude will translate from a 40-game collegiate season coaching teenagers to an 82-game NBA roster holding a superstar like James accountable remains a question mark. However, sources close to James have told ESPN in the past that while it may not always seem like it, James likes to be coached hard and responds well to a job on the floor — even at nearly 40 years old.

— Dave McMenamin

What could the Lakers do this offseason to improve the roster for Hurley (or another coach)?

The roster the Lakers have now, as Hurley interviews for the job, could look very different than the one he might coach in October.

All-Star Anthony Davis is under contract and all indications are that James will return (he has until June 29 to exercise his $51.4 million player option). But there are questions about the rest of the roster beyond the two franchise players, starting with D’Angelo Russell’s $18.9 million player option.

If Russell opts into his contract for next season, Los Angeles will not only be a luxury tax team again, but it will also cross the first apron. If the Lakers re-sign restricted free agent Max Christie, they would enter the restrictive second platform. A team above the first platform is not allowed to withdraw more money in a transaction, while a team on the second platform cannot merge contracts or send cash in a transaction, and cannot access the mid-level exception of $5.1 million for the taxpayer.

A scenario in which Russell does not return offers more flexibility, including access to the $12.9 million mid-level exception and more wiggle room to acquire a player in a trade. However, it would also leave the Lakers a void at point guard.

The Lakers will also have to evaluate whether seeking a third star alongside James and Davis is the best direction under the new CBA. The Lakers have three first-round picks (2024, 2029 and 2031) to trade, but a wiser use of them would be to copy how the Dallas Mavericks have used their draft assets. In three separate trades, the Mavericks acquired Kyrie Irving, PJ Washington and Daniel Gafford, all of whom were key contributors to their NBA Finals team. Costs? Three first-round picks.

–Bobby Marks

How would hiring Hurley affect the likelihood of the Lakers drafting Bronny James?

It’s clearly too early to predict how much influence Hurley could have on the Lakers’ approach to the draft with LA’s front office in the midst of preparations regardless of this hire.

Whether the Lakers target Bronny James, a projected second-round pick, may not be Hurley’s decision, and I don’t think there’s a direct implication one way or the other as to their immediate strategy in cultivating the margin of their selection. The Lakers will likely target a more NBA-ready rookie with the 17th pick if they keep it, leaving the door open for them to land a longer-term prospect in the second round at No. 55.

More importantly, a key driver behind the Lakers targeting Hurley with a significant long-term offer is his strong history of player development, something that has value not only to the organization now, but also as it prepares for the eventuality of a post. -LeBron-future.

During this back-to-back title run, Hurley and his UConn staff have done an excellent job of identifying undervalued talent on the recruiting trail and developing them into NBA prospects. Clingan and Castle will be off the board early in a few weeks. Others, like Cam Spencer and Alex Karaban (who is returning to UConn), benefited greatly from the program. It follows that if the Lakers ultimately decide to target Bronny James, Hurley’s hire is one that could increase his chances of becoming a player who stays in the league long-term.

–Jeremy Woo

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