Dan Hurley turns down Lakers coaching offer, will stay at Connecticut

Connecticut coach Dan Hurley, who darted to the front of the Lakers' coaching search in a surprise turn last week, turned down a six-year, $70-million offer to leave the defending NCAA champion Huskies, according to people with knowledge of the decision not authorized to speak publicly.

The failed pursuit, which comes 20 years after the Lakers tried — and failed — to hire then-Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski, leaves the Lakers in a peculiar position of being without a head coach more than a week into June.

The Lakers' interest in Hurley was kept incredibly secretive until ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski broke the news early Thursday, triggering a wild four-plus days of speculation set against the opening two games of the NBA Finals.

The general belief outside of the Lakers' organization before the report was that former player and current broadcaster JJ Redick had been the longtime favorite for the job. Still, only New Orleans assistant James Borrego, who previously coached in Charlotte, had been in Los Angeles for interviews with Lakers executives. Redick, according to people with knowledge of the situation, has not undergone similar interviews, though he has spoken with executive vice president and general manager Rob Pelinka.

Read more: Plaschke: Dan Hurley rejection is another humiliation for Lakers brand

It's expected the Lakers will refocus there, though it’s not immediately clear what the next steps are. Redick is still an analyst on the NBA Finals for ESPN, and Borrego is considered a top candidate for the Cleveland Cavaliers opening.

Both faded to the background as the Lakers took a big swing for Hurley.

Hurley met with Pelinka and controlling owner Jeanie Buss on Friday in Los Angeles before returning to the East Coast. He was at a Billy Joel concert Saturday night at Madison Square Garden in New York before returning to campus Monday, when his team had a scheduled practice.

In the hours leading up to Hurley’s decision, word began to spread through some coaching circles that he’d return to UConn. However, information about the process, which was more insulated than most NBA transactions, was incredibly scarce, leading to days of speculation about Hurley’s future.

Hurley nearly joined the Lakers after accomplishing an incredibly rare feat — winning back-to-back NCAA championships. Only he, Billy Donovan and Krzyzewski have coached teams to the tournament title in consecutive years since John Wooden's teams won seven straight at UCLA more than 50 years ago.

Now, Hurley will enter next season with a chance at a third.

Read more: Who is Dan Hurley? Everything you need to know about the Connecticut coach

Had Hurley accepted the Lakers' offer, he’d have needed to buck a trend of college coaches failing to win at the same rate in the NBA. Only Larry Brown has won titles in both, and just four coaches, including Brown, have coached in the Final Four and the NBA Finals.

The Lakers fired Darvin Ham after two seasons on May 3 following the team's five-game loss to Denver in the first round of the playoffs. Ham accepted a job Monday with Doc Rivers to return to Milwaukee as the Bucks' lead assistant. Before coaching the Lakers, Ham spent four years and won a championship as an assistant with Milwaukee.

It’s unknown whether the Lakers’ pursuit of Hurley will have an impact on other coaches the team has considered, a group that includes Redick and Borrego, who met with Lakers executives last week for in-person interviews.

Pelinka spoke with a handful of candidates, including Denver assistant David Adelman, Minnesota assistant Micah Nori and Boston assistant Sam Cassell.

The Lakers, though, seemed to have a clear top two in Redick and Borrego. Cassell has also been mentioned as a top candidate, though those names quickly faded after the team’s interest in Hurley became public.

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.