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Thursday, June 6, 2024

Why Lakers are concentrating on Dan Hurley: How UConn coach would assist L.A. in LeBron James period and past

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Dan Hurley’s place within the Los Angeles Lakers‘ teaching search could also be shocking, but it surely feels considerably acquainted. It was 20 years in the past subsequent month that Mike Krzyzewski, then faculty basketball’s most adorned coach, thought-about a prolonged courtship from the purple and gold. In the long run, he turned down them down, however he is maintained a relationship with the franchise and its stars within the a long time since. Now, he’s serving as a advisor on one other Lakers rent, and contemplating Hurley is the brother of his former level guard at Duke, Bobby Hurley, it is secure to say Krzyzewski has a deal with on what sort of coach the Lakers are contemplating.

So… what sort of coach are the Lakers contemplating? Who’s Dan Hurley, the two-time defending nationwide champion at UConn? What sort of group does he run? What would his presence imply for the roster transferring ahead? We’ll try to reply these questions and extra beneath.

How did Hurley get right here?

The final time the Lakers pursued a star faculty coach, Hurley was comparatively early in his tenure at St. Benedict’s Prep, a New Jersey highschool energy. That stage is the place the Hurley household has made its title. His father, Bob Hurley Sr., is the legendary head coach of St. Anthony Excessive Faculty in New Jersey, and Dan’s teaching profession started there as an assistant instantly after his taking part in profession at Seton Corridor ended. A short stint as a Rutgers assistant bought him the St. Benedict’s job, the place he stayed and thrived till 2010.

From there, Hurley made the leap to Wagner, which started a gentle development of gradual however deliberate program turnarounds on the faculty stage. His first Wagner group went 13-17. His second went 25-6. That bought him the Rhode Island job, the place he went beneath .500 for 2 years, however ultimately bought the Rams into back-to-back NCAA tournaments. They received a sport in each the 2017 and 2018 huge dances, and that bought him the Huskies job. For the third consecutive job, Hurley went beneath .500 in his debut marketing campaign (16-17). He hasn’t gone beneath .500 since. The Huskies went 19-12 in 2020, returned to the NCAA event in 2021 and, lastly, broke by way of as nationwide champions in each 2023 and 2024. 

Notably, the rosters on his two champions have been considerably totally different. This wasn’t Billy Donovan profitable back-to-back titles with the identical beginning 5. Solely two of his 5 2023 starters, Tristen Newton and Alex Karaban, have been again for 2024. He received the second title with a switch (Cam Spencer), a freshman (Stephon Fort) and a reserve (Donovan Clingan) moving into his lineup. At each cease, it is taken him a yr to implement his system, however as soon as he is achieved so, it has been in a position to survive participant turnover to stay steadily profitable. 

How did Hurley’s UConn groups play?

Manhattan coach John Gallagher summed up the expertise of dealing with UConn properly as a part of a profile on Hurley written by Michael Cohen of Fox Sports activities. “Any time you performed Danny’s groups previously, you knew you needed to win a road battle,” Gallagher stated. “Now within the final, I would say, two to a few years, you gotta go into the library and win the controversy, too.”

Hurley’s groups seamlessly mix energy and finesse. They ranked within the high 5 within the nation in rebounding price in each championship years whereas additionally rating within the high 11 in 3-point makes an attempt. The only most essential stat to UConn’s success? They ranked No. 2 within the nation in assists throughout their first championship run and No. 1 throughout their second regardless of rating one hundred and sixty fifth in tempo in 2023 and 315th in 2024. The Huskies did not inflate their help numbers in transition. This was a real, ball-movement machine within the half-court over the previous two seasons, ceaselessly looking high-value pictures on the rim and behind the arc extra efficiently than some other faculty group. 

KenPom’s opponent-adjusted offensive effectivity metric put them at a preposterous 127.5 factors per 100 possessions final season. That may make them the third-most environment friendly offense of the KenPom period, trailing solely the 2015 Wisconsin Badgers and the 2018 Villanova Wildcats.

Although the Lakers have had intervals of fleeting offensive success in recent times, this kind of offense has largely eluded them. The Lakers have by no means even shot a league-average variety of 3-pointers in the course of the LeBron James-Anthony Davis period. They ranked twenty fifth in passes per sport this season, which is roughly the place they’ve spent nearly all of the James period except for a 2020-21 season through which Marc Gasol forcefully dragged ball-movement out of an in any other case stagnant roster (to resounding success!) Hurley’s system can be a sea change for a Laker offense that has so usually defaulted to freelancing, isolation and the James-Davis pick-and-roll.

Regardless of their systematic limitations, the Lakers have been trending up offensively when their season ended. They completed the yr ranked No. 15 in offense, however No. 3 from Feb. 1 on. After all, the difficulty was that their protection ranked No. 21 in that span. This was far more of a roster challenge than a schematic one. Other than Davis, the entire greatest Laker gamers have been offense-centric. Key defenders Jarred Vanderbilt and Gabe Vincent have been damage all yr. Defensively, Darvin Ham was pressured to attempt to make hen salad out of, nicely, you understand.

Hurley would presumably have extra defensive expertise at his disposal than Ham did virtually by default. Schematically, his system has leaned towards drop-coverage and rim-protection. That has been what his personnel has been best-suited in direction of, with impending lottery decide Donovan Clingan being probably the most notable instance of a high-end rim-protector to return by way of Hurley’s program. Notably, although, Hurley has proven a willingness to get inventive with schemes on the fly in larger moments. He notably performed a zone protection within the second half of a 2023 Elite Eight win over Gonzaga, for instance, and that helped the Huskies maintain the Bulldogs to 22 factors in that 20-minute interval.

Davis is one thing of a schematic skeleton key defensively. If Hurley needs to run a protection primarily based on the drop-coverage that turned Clingan right into a star final season? Davis can try this. If he needs to get extra inventive and have Davis defend on the stage of the display and even change? He can try this too, and that can matter when he needs to combine issues up in the midst of video games as he so ceaselessly did at UConn. However in the end, his success defensively goes to return right down to how a lot the Lakers are in a position to improve on the level of assault. Ham ceaselessly used gamers like Taurean Prince and Austin Reaves in opposition to star opposing ball-handlers. No coach can overcome that. Hurley could have had Clingan final season, however he additionally had Stephon Fort to hound high opponents. Rob Pelinka must get him extra to work with on that finish of the ground.

Greater than anything, Hurley’s greatest trait as a coach is that he’s adaptable. He developed his historic offense over time, acknowledged and embraced fashionable basketball developments, and adjusted it as wanted. That is what it takes to win within the fashionable NBA. There may need been a time through which it was potential to win with a devoted system. At present, video games and sequence are received and misplaced on matchups and changes. Hurley has confirmed prepared to tinker and experiment with out sacrificing his group’s core, bodily identification. Such coaches are are very uncommon, and if that interprets, Hurley will likely be an excellent NBA head coach.

If there’s a query mark right here, it pertains to Hurley’s persona. He’s recognized for operating intense and demanding practices. His mood with officers and willingness to confront his gamers is well-known. This old-school method tends to work higher on the faculty stage than within the professionals, the place veterans are used to having extra autonomy and follow schedules are lighter by necessity of the entire additional video games they should play. Hurley admitted himself on the Dan Patrick Present that his curiosity within the NBA was partly reliant on “if I may develop up a little bit bit, mature a bit with feelings.”

Outdated-school teaching is not solely out of trend. Tom Thibodeau is notoriously demanding relating to follow habits. Some gamers are ill-suited for that fashion, however his present roster has embraced it. Hurley would not must fully change his teaching fashion, however he’d must be open-minded in regards to the variations between youthful faculty gamers {and professional} athletes. Reaching seasoned millionaires usually requires a really totally different method. 

Why Hurley over, say, JJ Redick?

The Lakers clearly consider Redick goes to be a profitable NBA head coach some day. They don’t seem to be the one group that thinks so. Each the Toronto Raptors and Charlotte Hornets have interviewed him for high jobs previously two offseasons. Shams Charania and Jovan Buha of The Athletic even reported that the Lakers take into account him a “Pat Riley-like teaching prospect.” If Hurley doesn’t in the end take this job, there may be nonetheless a robust likelihood that Redick does.

However there are clear the reason why the entrance workplace would like Hurley. The plain one is expertise. Hurley hasn’t coached within the NBA, however Redick hasn’t coached anyplace besides the youth stage. Redick may be an excellent coach. Hurley already is, even when it hasn’t occurred within the professionals but. There can be an adjustment interval for each, however it will doubtless be longer for Redick. The Lakers could also be pondering long-term with this rent, however that does not imply they’re prepared to punt the top of the James period solely. Having an skilled coach this yr maximizes no matter championship fairness the Lakers have.

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It is also, frankly, onerous to disclaim the entrance workplace incentives at play right here. The Rob Pelinka-led entrance workplace spearheaded the hires of each Frank Vogel and Darvin Ham. Each of them have been fired. Basic managers hardly ever get to rent a 3rd head coach. Redick could have loads of teaching upside, however he is additionally an unlimited threat. If Pelinka employed Redick and he proceeded to fail, it will be very onerous for him to persuade administration that he deserves to rent a fourth head coach. That’s very true for the reason that coach he did not safe in 2019, Ty Lue, has gone on to turn out to be one of the revered in all of basketball with the Clippers. Teaching hires have been a persistent challenge for the Lakers. Hurley, if nothing else, is a comparatively straightforward selection to elucidate. He is the two-time reigning faculty champion. No person goes out on a limb right here.

Redick will ultimately be an NBA head coach if he needs to be. It would even be with the Lakers. However any entrance workplace that hires him must be ready for the likelihood that he struggles, a minimum of initially, contemplating his lack of expertise. Given the age of the roster and the teaching swings this entrance workplace has already missed, it is not onerous to see why the Lakers would like the confirmed commodity.

What would a Hurley rent imply for the Laker roster?

Let’s begin with the plain: LeBron James is, functionally, an impending free agent. He has happily blessed this rent. In April, Redick, of all folks, shared a video of him discussing UConn’s offense with Hurley. James responded with excessive reward. “He is so DAMN GOOD!!! Alongside along with his workers. Tremendous inventive with their O! Adore it,” James wrote. The widespread expectation is that James will return this offseason both by way of an extension or a brand new deal solely. He’s eligible for a three-year deal in whole.

His future, nevertheless, is notably unsure. ESPN’s Brian Windhorst reported that James was clear about that with the Lakers, saying that he informed them one thing to the impact of “You need to rent any individual who’s for past simply me. I may be right here for one more yr. I may be right here for 2 years. You have to decide that is constructed round Anthony Davis.” Wealthy Paul, the agent for each James and Davis, echoed that sentiment in a latest interview with Bleacher Report’s Chris Haynes. By all accounts, the Lakers are pondering long-term right here.

However that begs the query: how aggressive are they prepared to be in reshaping this roster? The Lakers have three first-round picks to commerce this offseason: the No. 17 total decide on this yr’s draft together with future picks in 2029 and 2031. They’ll additionally supply swaps in 2026, 2028 and 2030, and in the event that they wish to get actually aggressive, they will even commerce the currently-protected portion of the 2027 decide they owe the Jazz (1-4), as that decide doesn’t roll over into future years. A lot of the reporting surrounding this Lakers offseason has recommended that they plan to buy these picks for upgrades, both within the type of a 3rd star to pair with James and Davis or function gamers to place round them.

Such a transfer would most likely be essential to raise a Lakers group that simply earned a No. 7 seed within the Western Convention into true, rapid championship competition. However would the Lakers actually wish to sacrifice all of their future roster optionality proper as they rent a university coach? What occurs if the gamers they purchase do not wind up becoming his imaginative and prescient for the group? Heck, what in the event that they do match, and the Lakers contend for a yr or two with James nonetheless taking part in like himself, however ultimately, he and Davis age out of stardom? Hurley cannot construct a program with out entry to high expertise.

In the event that they do commerce for a star, it will most likely must be somebody on the youthful aspect that might develop with Hurley within the function. Reported targets Darius Garland (24 years outdated), Trae Younger (25) and Donovan Mitchell (27) all match that invoice, however not one of the three are influence defenders. Have been the Lakers to amass any of them, they’d must be assured of their capacity to develop such gamers on the fringes. Nonetheless, pairing Davis with any of these guards ought to preserve the Lakers aggressive even after James ultimately retires or strikes on, offered good well being.

Is there a center floor through which the Lakers commerce a few of their youth and draft capital for upgrades with out promoting the farm? Doubtlessly. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski cited a younger core of Austin Reaves, Rui Hachimura and Max Christie as gamers administration consider may thrive underneath Hurley’s steering. That would go away Gabe Vincent ($11 million) and Jarred Vanderbilt ($10.7 million) as apparent commerce candidates, together with 2023 first-round decide Jalen Hood-Schifino ($3.9 million) and, if he picks up his participant choice, D’Angelo Rusell ($18.7 million). Uniting the primary two may a minimum of match wage on a mid-tier, influence starter. Throw within the final two and now you are a minimum of in money-matching vary for a star, although such a participant would clearly command vital draft capital.

Final offseason, the Lakers largely ran again the roster that went to the Western Convention finals. They don’t seem to be doing that once more this time round. The one query now could be how a lot of their future they’re prepared to promote for the sake of the current. If the Lakers view Hurley as a long-term program-builder, it is most likely going to be much less of it than we in any other case thought. If nothing else, it would not make sense to commerce away all of their future picks earlier than Hurley has even coached a single sport. The very last thing the Lakers are going to wish to do is totally sacrifice their capacity to construct by way of the draft earlier than they know whether or not or not they will ever must. There will likely be modifications this summer time. They only won’t be as drastic as followers could have hoped.

How a lot is that this going to price the Lakers?

In brief, it is not going to be low-cost. Proper now, Hurley is teaching UConn on a six-year, $32.1 million deal. Throw that work out the window. It’s pocket change in fashionable NBA teaching phrases. In keeping with USA At present, Invoice Self is the highest-paid faculty coach proper now at $9.6 million per yr. That’s most likely the bar UConn wants to achieve for Hurley to even take into account staying put, as a result of NBA numbers are a lot larger proper now.

Monty Williams reset the NBA’s coach market final offseason with a six-year, $78 million take care of the Detroit Pistons. That is a median annual worth of $12.5 million. Gregg Popovich exceeded that determine on a five-year, $80 million pact with the Spurs. Erik Spoelstra blew each numbers out of the water with a large eight-year, $120 million extension with the Miami Warmth this season. Steve Kerr is the typical annual worth champ for now at $17.5 million per yr, however he prolonged for less than two years in Golden State. Ty Lue ($14 million per yr) lately prolonged in that ballpark.

All of which means a high NBA coach can now simply command eight figures yearly. Previously, the Lakers haven’t solely hesitated to pay top-dollar for coaches, however have additionally most popular shorter-term offers. They misplaced Lue in 2019 partly as a result of they solely supplied him a three-year deal. They ultimately bought Vogel on such a contract, and prolonged him for just one yr even after he received the 2020 championship. Ham bought a four-year deal when the Lakers employed him in 2022. Hurley, at a minimal, would most likely command 5 years. Six is extra doubtless, as Williams proved it was potential to get such a deal from a brand new group whether it is determined sufficient.

Staffing will not be low-cost both, although Dan Woike of the LA Occasions has reported that the Lakers are ready to pay what it takes for a high workers. All three UConn assistants have turn out to be sizzling commodities in their very own proper. Affiliate head coach Kimani Younger would doubtless be a candidate to exchange Hurley if he left. Assistants Tom Moore and Luke Murray (son of actor Invoice Murray) can be coveted by different faculty packages in addition to the Lakers. Los Angeles would doubtless want to have some extent of NBA expertise on its bench. That may doubtless come from the teaching realm, with Woike naming James Borrego (a candidate for the pinnacle teaching job) and Scott Brooks as potentialities. A participant whose title has made the rounds a bit? Rajon Rondo, whose basketball IQ is known. He was revered by Laker teammates throughout his stint in Los Angeles as a participant and would seemingly have a ton of upside as a coach.

The Lakers have by no means been recognized for his or her willingness to spend on non-player workers. Bringing in Hurley can be costly in itself, however so would equipping him with the entire assets he would wish to succeed. If Hurley is certainly the rent, the Lakers might want to spend on assistants, on the video room, on analytics, and on all types of help workers which have helped him thrive at UConn. If Hurley goes to construct a program within the NBA as he has in faculty, it will be from the bottom up. That’s costly, but when he’s anyplace close to as profitable as he is been at UConn, it will be nicely price it.

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