Latest on the Lakers coaching search after Dan Hurley returns to UConn

The Los Angeles Lakers will not be hiring Dan Hurley as the new head coach. Where does that leave Rob Pelinka, the Lakers, and the biggest vacancy in sports?
Ohio State v Villanova
Ohio State v Villanova / Rob Carr/GettyImages

The Los Angeles Lakers are headed back to the drawing board in the aftermath of the disappointing end to the Dan Hurley saga. The Connecticut Huskies head coach had interviewed with the Lakers, impressing the organization enough to receive a six-year, $70 million contract offer.

Unfortunately, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN confirmed that Hurley has declined the Lakers' offer and will return to UConn for the 2024-25 season.

It was a devastating twist for the Lakers, which appeared to have found the perfect candidate. Hurley has nearly 30 years of coaching experience between the collegiate and high school levels, is rewowned for his player development skills, and has won back-to-back national championships.

Hurley will now return to the University of Connecticut, where he'll attempt to lead his team to the first three-peat in men's college basketball since John Wooden's UCLA Bruins won every title from 1967 to 1973.

Los Angeles, meanwhile, will return to the realm of potential coaching candidates. The organization had been previously linked to the likes of David Adelman, James Borrego, Sam Cassell, Micah Nori, Chris Quinn, and JJ Redick.

Per Wojnarowski, Borrego and Redick are likely to return to frontrunner status, with the latter likely to have a highly-anticipated official first interview.

Borrego and Redick were the rumored favorites before the report arrived that Hurley was the actual lead candidate all along.

Lakers going back to the original pool of candidates—but not exclusively

Borrego is a former head coach who helped the Charlotte Hornets rank in the top 10 in offensive rating before he was unceremoniously fired. The Hornets won 43 games in that fateful 2021-22 season, their most since 2015-16.

In the two seasons since firing Borrego, who has also interviewed for the Cleveland Cavaliers head coaching vacancy, Charlotte has won a combined 48 games.

As for Redick, mum's the word as he finishes out his assignment as a commentator on ABC's NBA Finals coverage. He's yet to coach at the college or NBA levels, but his experience as a player, thought-provoking analysis, and connection to LeBron James have helped him enter the discussion.

It would be a calculated risk on the Lakers' part to hire Redick due to his inexperience, but there are some in the organization who view him as a Pat Riley type of coaching prospect.

As Borrego and Redick vie for the position, there may be another candidate who follows in Hurley's footsteps by entering the discussion at the 25th hour. In fact, there's a former head coach whose résumé is comparable to Hurley's and who has been on the NBA radar in the past.

Dan Hurley isn't the only NCAA champion the Lakers have their eyes on

According to Marc Stein of The Stein Line, two-time National Champion and former Villanova Wildcats head coach Jay Wright is an under-the-radar option whom the Lakers may be considering.

"I had been warned early on by one well-placed insider, for what it's worth, to stay ready in case former Villanova coach Jay Wright emerged as a stealth candidate," said Stein.

With Hurley now out of the equation, it makes sense that Wright could be back in the mix as a potential target for Pelinka and the Lakers.

Pelinka has shown an affinity for player development specialists this offseason, as all of the names listed have a history of helping talent flourish under their watch. Wright fits the bill as the college coach who helped develop the likes of Mikal Bridges, Jalen Brunson, Donte DiVincenzo, Josh Hart, and Kyle Lowry.

That could potentially appeal to the Lakers as they watch their cross-country rival Knicks thrive with a cast of ex-Villanova players who developed into NBA-level prospects under Wright.

Regardless of what transpires, the Lakers have made waves during the NBA Finals. From incessant rumors suggesting that the job has been Redick's all along to the Hurley fiasco, Los Angeles has embraced the spotlight.

With a list of intriguing options and the disappointment of Hurley turning down a massive offer, the Lakers must now navigate even more challenging terrain in the pursuit of a Phil Jackson replacement.

13 years and seven coaches later, perhaps No. 8 will do the Kobe Bryant tribute trick.