Lakers conduct a public coaching search, considering Hurley and Redick, in hopes of pleasing LeBron – Metro US

Lakers conduct a public coaching search, considering Hurley and Redick, in hopes of pleasing LeBron

Lkers Coaching Search Basketball
FILE – UConn head coach Dan Hurley calls towards his players during the first half of the Elite 8 college basketball game against Illinois in the men’s NCAA Tournament, Saturday, March 30, 2024, in Boston. The Los Angeles Lakers’ reported plan to offer a massive contract to UConn coach Dan Hurley is the latest twist in the monthlong race to replace Darvin Ham. (AP Photo/Steven Senne, File)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Los Angeles Lakers’ coaching search has been very public, seemingly chaotic and dominated by famous names.

Totally Hollywood, in other words.

The Lakers’ reported plan to offer a massive contract to UConn coach Dan Hurley is the latest twist in the monthlong race to replace Darvin Ham, who was fired May 3 after two seasons.

On Thursday night, ESPN reported Hurley is traveling to Los Angeles for a Friday meeting with Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka and owner Jeanie Buss. Citing unidentified sources in the report, ESPN also said Hurley informed UConn of his interest in talking to the Lakers on Wednesday and spoke to his players Thursday.

The Lakers were knocked out of the first round of the current playoffs, but the 17-time NBA champion franchise has nicely filled the void of hoops drama during the week before the NBA Finals with steady leaks about the progress of their quest for a coach who can win a title — and almost as vitally, a coach who can entice LeBron James to finish his career in purple and gold.

According to a person with knowledge of the lengthy search, the Lakers have strongly considered J.J. Redick, the former player and current ESPN analyst who does a podcast with James; Hurley, the back-to-back national championship-winning coach of the Huskies; and James Borrego, the respected former Charlotte Hornets coach and ex-Gregg Popovich assistant who spent last season on New Orleans’ staff.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the Lakers aren’t commenting publicly on the search to replace Ham.

But they sure are commenting privately.

On Wednesday, the Athletic reported that Redick shockingly was the frontrunner despite his total lack of coaching experience. On Thursday, the search took another wild turn when ESPN reported the Lakers were instead targeting Hurley, whose candidacy hadn’t even been mentioned in many discussions of the job.

The crazy twists are representative of the various factions within the Lakers’ brain trust of Buss and elinka dispensing narratives to their favored media outlets. The Lakers previously seemed unlikely to make an official hire before the end of the NBA Finals, but the person who spoke to the AP said even that could change, depending on their progress.

While the Dallas Mavericks and the Boston Celtics waited a week to begin the NBA Finals, the Lakers have dominated talk radio, television and message boards with speculation on the best choice to lead James and the Lakers back to contention for a second title together.

The Lakers are making their coaching change at a critical juncture for the franchise’s partnership with the NBA’s career scoring leader.

The 39-year-old James just completed his 21st season while playing at a higher level than anyone with that much experience in basketball history, but he has until June 29 to decide whether to exercise his $51.4 million player option for the 2024-25 season.

James could take the deal, or he could sign an even bigger new contract for more years — or he could become a free agent for the first time in six years.

While 31-year-old Anthony Davis is the Lakers’ foundation with a long-term contract in Los Angeles, Buss and Pelinka are clearly determined to keep James alongside him for as long as possible — even publicly floating their willingness to draft his son, Bronny, who just completed one brief collegiate season at USC.

While agent Rich Paul has said James is not involved in the coaching search as he prepares to play for the U.S. at the Paris Olympics, the Lakers’ candidates seem designed to appeal to him.

James’ connection with Redick is well-known. James also recently praised Hurley on social media following a podcast interview between Redick and Hurley, with the 20-time All-Star writing that Hurley is “so DAMN GOOD!!! Along with his staff. Super creative with their (offense). Love it.”

Hurley has won 141 games in six seasons at UConn, rolling to the past two national titles in impressive fashion. The addition of the nation’s top collegiate coach to the Lakers could be enticing to James and his son, who likely still needs extensive development to be a serviceable NBA player.

The Lakers’ relative underachievement this season despite a healthy James and Davis was primarily blamed on Ham, the first-time head coach who dismayed many fans and observers with his rotations, preparation and strategic acumen. The Lakers have chased savvy basketball minds in their latest search, no matter their pedigree: Redick’s encyclopedic understanding of the game has been on display in his podcast with James, while Hurley favors an NBA-friendly style of play that should translate well to the biggest basketball stage.

Whoever they choose, the Lakers will be adding yet another head coach at a pace typically reserved for underachieving European soccer teams, not powerhouse NBA franchises.

The new hire will be the Lakers’ eighth coach since Phil Jackson’s departure in 2011 and their fourth coach since James arrived as a free agent in 2018. Frank Vogel led Los Angeles to the 2020 championship, but kept the job for only 225 games over three seasons before being fired exactly 18 months after raising the trophy in the Florida bubble.

Ham was the fourth coach fired by James’ teams in the past eight years, joining Cleveland’s David Blatt and the Lakers’ Luke Walton and Vogel.

AP NBA: https://apnews.com/NBA