Rob Pelinka playing a dangerously brilliant game with Lakers coaching search

Los Angeles Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka is playing a dangerous game in the search for a new head coach, but it may just be crazy enough to work.
Los Angeles Lakers v Golden State Warriors
Los Angeles Lakers v Golden State Warriors / Lachlan Cunningham/GettyImages

The Los Angeles Lakers have rewritten a league-wide narrative in less than 24 hours. With countless respected national NBA reporters stating that the hiring of JJ Redick as head coach was all but a formality, the Lakers turned the process on its head.

Redick is still in play for the position of head coach, but Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN dropped one of his most shocking bombs yet by reporting that Dan Hurley is Rob Pelinka's preferred pick.

Hurley is arguably the best coach in men's college basketball, but his name hadn't even been mentioned as an option for the Lakers on a mainstream level. At the 25th hour, however, Hurley was revealed as the candidate that Pelinka favored all along—a truth that few were aware of.

According to Jovan Buha of The Athletic, Pelinka not only kept Hurley's candidacy a secret from the public but from several important figures within the organization itself.

"The organization’s courting of Hurley, first reported by ESPN and confirmed Thursday by The Athletic via team and league sources, was kept secret from the public and even several key Lakers decision-makers...Within some internal conversations, Hurley’s name began coming up as recently as last week, team and league sources told The Athletic."

That's an incredible risk in the sense that it could alienate valued individuals, but it could ultimately prove to be an invaluably wise decision.

The Hurley family is basketball royalty at the high school and collegiate levels, and Dan Hurley is no exception. Following in the footsteps of his legendary father Bob Hurley Sr., the Connecticut Huskies head coach has become a decorated champion and a program floor and ceiling-raiser.

That's culminated in Hurley leading UConn to back-to-back National Championships—a feat that hadn't been accomplished in nearly 20 years.

Pelinka seems to be gambling on his belief that Hurley can make the transition from college to the NBA. It would be a monumental feat, but not an unprecedented one, as the likes of Billy Donovan, Quin Snyder, and Brad Stevens have experienced success after making the same type of move.

It's also worth noting that Hurley is used to making leaps to higher levels of competition, as he began his coaching career at the high school level before ultimately dominating Division I.

For as promising a candidate as Hurley is, Pelinka is playing a dangerous game. Not informing other members of the organization of his preference isn't an inherently bad thing, as he may not necessarily be required to do so.

It could imply an absence of trust among peers, however, which is the perfect way to sow seeds of dissent.

True as that may be, this is a landscape-altering offseason for the Lakers. LeBron James will turn 40 in December, Anthony Davis is 31 with a long history of injuries, and the lack of salary cap flexibility will necessitate significant turnover as trades are utilized to improve the roster.

If ever there were a time for Pelinka to take the future of the Lakers into his own hands, this would be it.

In Hurley, the Lakers would be landing a coach who's all about accountability and adapting to the ebbs and flows of the game. Hurley is an emotional and demonstrative coach who's as caring as he is hard on his players. He's also a master two-way tactician.

If it's truly time to change the culture, then perhaps that all begins with tightening the circle of influence around Pelinka and making a decision that will undoubtedly define his tenure.

This isn't to say that there are members of the Lakers organization who would hope to sabotage Pelinka. Instead, it's a simple matter of the individual who has been charged with restoring the greatness of this team defining his approach to deliberation and decision-making.

That may not sit well with everyone who will be impacted by the hiring of a new head coach, but with the biggest decision of his tenure looming, Pelinka has made his priorities clear.