Dan Hurley rejects Lakers offer, stays at UConn

Dan Hurley turned down a six-year, $70 million offer from the Los Angeles Lakers, sources told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, and will return to win a third straight national title at UConn.

β€œI am humbled by this entire experience,” Hurley said in a statement released by the school. “Ultimately, I am extremely proud of the championship culture we have built at Connecticut. We met as a team before today’s practice and our focus right now is on getting better this summer and to connect as a team as we continue to pursue championships.”

The Lakers reportedly made Hurley one of the six highest-paid coaches in the NBA. But before opening discussions with the Lakers, Hurley had already received an offer from UConn to become one of the highest-paid coaches in the NCAA, and those discussions will continue, sources told Wojnarowski.

Hurley signed a six-year, $32.1 million contract with UConn following the 2022-23 season. He had the opportunity to take over one of the most storied franchises in professional sports and a potential chance to coach the NBA’s all-time leading man, LeBron James.

But Hurley ultimately chose to stay at UConn, which went 68-11 over the past two seasons and will try to become the second program to win three straight men’s national titles. UCLA, the only men’s program to do better than back-to-back series, won seven straight NCAA championships from 1967-73.

UConn confirmed Hurley’s decision with a statement from athletic director David Benedict, who said the school was “thrilled” to have its coach stay put.

β€œHe helped return our men’s basketball program to the pinnacle of the sport, including back-to-back NCAA championships, and we are grateful for his loyalty to UConn,” Benedict said. “We look forward to Dan’s continued leadership on and off the field at UConn. He will continue to bring great pride to Husky fans everywhere as we work toward a trio.”

Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont, who was in contact with Hurley throughout the weekend, told reporters Monday that the state would “make sure he’s the highest-paid college coach.”

He also participated in celebrating the news on social media.

Hurley told Wojnarowski on Sunday that the Lakers made a “compelling case” and presented a “compelling vision” for him to become their next coach, but that he liked what he had built with the two-time national champion Huskies In title.

Hurley also told Wojnarowski that he left “extremely impressed” with Lakers vice president and general manager Rob Pelinka and owner Jeanie Buss and spent Sunday evaluating their offer.

After a hot pursuit of Hurley over the past few weeks, the Lakers will regroup and begin recruiting interview candidates again in hopes of hiring a coach by the NBA draft later this month, sources told Wojnarowski.

New Orleans Pelicans assistant James Borrego is expected to remain among Los Angeles’ candidates, and the Lakers could conduct their first formal interview with JJ Redick, who is also linked to the job.

The Lakers’ failed pursuit of Hurley came 20 years after they also attempted to hire Mike Krzyzewski from Duke for a record contract in 2004. Krzyzewski ultimately chose to stay at Duke.

After back-to-back historically dominant national title seasons, Hurley became the sport’s most coveted coach after building a juggernaut that overtook college basketball – culminating in the first repeat NCAA champion in 17 years and a tournament performance that produced the largest point differential in tournament history – 140 points.

The possibility of UConn winning a third straight title is there with the return of a preseason top-5 team, but the Huskies lost two likely lottery picks (center Donovan Clingan and guard Stephon Castle) and a first-team All-America point guard. (Tristen Newton) in the NBA draft.

Hurley is 141-58 in his six seasons at UConn and 292-163 overall in 14 seasons as a college coach – adding his years at Wagner and Rhode Island. He had four losing seasons during that span; his first year at Wagner, his first two at Rhode Island and his first year at UConn.

The Lakers fired coach Darvin Ham after a first-round elimination in the Western Conference playoffs. Ham was 94-70 in two seasons, including a trip to the Western Conference Finals in 2023.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.