In a stunner, Lakers set to pursue UConn's Dan Hurley for head coaching position

The Lakers are planning to offer their head coaching position to UConn head coach Dan Hurley, according to people with knowledge of the team’s plans but not authorized to speak publicly.

The sides are expected to have increased discussions in the upcoming days, with the Lakers motivated to lure Hurley from college basketball.

“I don’t know if I’ve ever been more shocked,” one Lakers official said.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski first reported the news early Thursday morning, sending a shock wave through not just the league, but also through the Lakers’ own building.

For weeks, the external expectations have been that the Lakers would eventually target former NBA player and current broadcaster JJ Redick as the team’s next coach.

Internally, though, that assessment was met with talk of a wide-open process, with some dismissing the Redick speculation as just “noise.”

That insistence, it turned out, was accurate.

The internal/external dynamic has left many people confused as to the Lakers’ path, which general manager Rob Pelinka and owner Jeanie Buss have traveled in relative secrecy — the news Thursday providing the kind of bludgeoning effect that’s rare in an era where every step of a process is rationed out as news.

Hurley is expected to command an expensive long-term deal in the NBA, the coaching market being reset last offseason as deals with annual values of more than $10 million became common for the league’s top coaches.

In Hurley, the Lakers are hoping to find a program builder, an experienced winner with a track record of development. Since the team moved on from Darvin Ham, people involved in the search have pointed to a big-picture approach with the hire. The hope has been the team can find a coach who can maximize LeBron James’ final years in the NBA while establishing the kind of culture that can sustain the franchise in its next era.

James, according to people with knowledge of the situation but not authorized to speak publicly, hasn’t taken an active role in the Lakers’ search beyond echoing those big- picture goals.

Hurley won the last two NCAA tournaments for UConn — an incredible feat in modern college basketball, with the Huskies being the third back-to-back champions since 1990, including Mike Krzyzewski’s two titles in 1991 and 1992 with Duke.

The Lakers famously tried, and failed, to hire Krzyzewski in 2004.

The list, though, of college coaches who have transitioned successfully to the NBA is a short one in the modern game. Chicago coach Billy Donovan, who like Krzyzewski and Hurley won back-to-back titles, has gone 399-319 in nine NBA seasons since jumping from Florida.

The Lakers held formal on-site interviews with New Orleans lead assistant James Borrego last week and have spoken to a pool of candidates in less formal ways — a list that includes Redick and top assistants around the league like Boston’s Sam Cassell, Minnesota’s Micah Nori and Denver’s David Adelman.

Redick, to date, has not had the same kind of organization-wide interview that Borrego got last week in Los Angeles.

Hurley is hardly the only college coach ever courted by the NBA and plenty before him have been close to making the leap only to return to campus jobs, where they generally have more autonomy.

NBA executives have expressed some reservations about hiring college coaches because the games are “just totally different,” as one told The Times.

There are rule differences, tighter shot clocks, longer game clocks, different terminologies, a lesser emphasis on practice, more games and, perhaps most importantly, different player-coach dynamics in the NBA than at the college level.

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