Dan Hurley Rejects the Lakers: Why Did Los Angeles Cheap Out?

Dan Hurley Rejects the Lakers: Why Did Los Angeles Cheap Out? article feature image

Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images. Pictured: Rob Pelinka (left) and Jeanie Buss.

The Los Angeles Lakers are a historic and storied NBA franchise with a long history of iconic head coaches including Phil Jackson, Pat Riley, Rudy Tomjanovich, Paul Westhead, Magic Johnson — but apparently not Dan Hurley.

After a week-long flirting session with the Lakers, Hurley officially turned Los Angeles down on Monday afternoon to stay at UConn, turning down a reported six-year, $70-million offer from the Lakers.

So, why did Hurley turn down L.A.? And, perhaps more importantly, why did the Lakers cheap out at the finish line?

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The Hurley fit in L.A. never made a ton of sense.

Hurley has been sensational at UConn and is easily at the top of the college game after back-to-back titles, along with a flurry of recent absences from some of the game's long-time great coaches. Hurley is known for his brash style of development and for his outstanding in-game coaching and adjustments, which may not have worked in the NBA where things are very different from night to night.

All the more so with these particular Lakers, led by LeBron James and Anthony Davis, a team that is always going to want to do things The King's way.

There was talk of the Lakers wanting Hurley to come to L.A. to develop Bronny James, whom the Lakers would supposedly take with the No. 55 pick of the NBA Draft.

In a word: ridiculous.

You don't hire a coach and offer him $100 million to come in and develop a 6-foot-1 fringe draft pick, whose status as a No. 55 pick would suggest he has a far better likelihood of never even making the roster than being worth a nine-figure coaching developmental contract.

Ah, but there's the rub, isn't it? The reporting on Hurley last week was that the Lakers were ready to blow the doors off if they could just get Hurley into town, and that $100 million offer sure sounded shiny and awesome.

Well, $100,000,000.00 has a whole lot of zeroes, and a chance to move from Storrs, Conn., to sunny Los Angeles is hard to turn down.

Six years, $70 million was the reported offer instead — incredulously hyped by Adrian Wojnarowski in his news-breaking tweet as "one of [the] NBA's six highest paid coaches."

Really, Lakers? Really?

These are the Los Angeles freakin' Lakers. Alone at the top of the league with 18 banners — at least for another few days. The Purple and Gold. The team that every NBA superstar for decades has fallen over itself to join. The team that catches every break, has everything go its way.

The Lakers are the sun around which the NBA universe revolves.

And they were willing to make Hurley a top-six highest-paid coach?!

The Lakers rank in the top 15 on Forbes' most recent list of most valuable sports teams worldwide, with an estimated net worth of $5.9 billion.

That's billion, with a "B," not an "M." That's 5,900 millions. That's what the Lakers are worth, more than FC Barcelona, more than any English Premier League club, more than the Los Angeles Dodgers or Boston Red Sox.

Imagine the New York Yankees walking away from the manager they just had to have in order to save a few bucks. Imagine the Golden State Warriors folding up shop because it's just too expensive to run back the light years Ws one more time. Imagine the Dallas Cowboys being too cheap — you know what, let's table that one.

There are 30 NBA franchises. Top six means top 20% of the league.

The Lakers desperately wanted to make a splash, to return to relevancy and give LeBron one more push before his twilight years (they have to come at some point, right??), to get the biggest name in basketball coaching on the planet … and they were willing to pay him among the top 20% of coaches in the league.

What are we doing?!

Well, the Lakers are still paying Darvin Ham, for one thing. Still paying Frank Vogel too, a guy the Lakers ran out of town just two years after leading the team to a championship.

Money doesn't grow on trees, even in Hollywood. Somebody still has to write the check, and that extra $30 million still had to come from somewhere.

Still, this is an embarrassing look for the Lakers.

Who turns down a move from Storrs to L.A. and a once-in-a-lifetime chance to coach the best player of his generation? You had Hurley in house. You wined and dined him, introduced him to all the stars, let him step onto the iconic Staples Crytpo.com Sellout Center Arena.

And then you let him walk away to save a few bucks — as the Los Angeles Lakers.

I guess the good news for the Lakers is that they can probably still catch Hurley at next year's Final Four in the Alamodome as he chases history and a third straight NCAA title, just in time to head back home and prep for another trip to the NBA Play-in Tournament.

But hey — at least the Buss family trust saved a few bucks along the way.

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Jun 20, 2024 UTC