Dan Hurley – Rejecting Lakers offer wasn’t a ‘play of leverage’

Dan Hurley – Rejecting Lakers offer wasn’t a ‘play of leverage’

Dan Hurley says his decision to reject a six-year, $70 million offer to coach the Los Angeles Lakers wasn’t “leverage” because he had already agreed to terms on a new contract with UConn.

On “The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz” Thursday, Hurley called it a difficult decision whether to coach the Lakers for an eight-figure sum or return for a third straight national title at UConn. But that leverage was unnecessary, he said, because he and UConn had already negotiated a new contract in recent weeks.

“One of the worst ideas I’ve heard is that this is leverage on my part to improve my situation at UConn,” Hurley said on the show. “I don’t need influence here. We’ve won back-to-back national championships at this place. It’s never been an influence situation for me.

“I’ve had a contract in place here for a few weeks. And the last part, in terms of salary, has been sorted out for a while. There are other parts, like NIL and staff salary and other things , which I want to be adjusted and I’m not comfortable with that But the idea that this was a conspiracy to get me a better deal at UConn is just lazy.”

Hurley admitted that the Lakers probably could have made him an offer he couldn’t have refused. But the deal he made at UConn — which the school has not announced — will make him the highest-paid college coach in America, he said. He currently has a six-year, $32.1 million contract with UConn. Kansas coach Bill Self is currently the highest paid coach at $9.6 million per year.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported last week that the Lakers had decided to focus their search on Hurley rather than other candidates. Hurley flew to Los Angeles this weekend to meet with general manager Rob Pelinka and owner Jeanie Buss. However, he said Thursday that he did not speak directly with the team’s biggest star, LeBron James, before making his choice.

“I haven’t (talked to James),” Hurley said. “We had some communication. … It would have been exciting to coach him.”

Hurley said he had a nerve-wracking weekend as he struggled with his options.

“It was a heartbreaking decision for me,” he said. “Sunday night, before Monday, when I kind of had a deadline in mind, I was torn and I didn’t really know what I was going to do before I went to bed.”

The Lakers, Hurley said, should have offered him a significant amount of money to abandon the UConn program.

“To leave, there are probably (a number),” he said. “Leaving a place at any point in your life, say that’s not a motivator…financials to leave a place is definitely a thing. Staying in a place, I don’t think it’ll ever be possible to be a thing. Staying at a place like UConn, it would never have been about finances.

“It wasn’t a pressure tactic to make me the highest paid college coach. It’s been done before. But leaving a place where they feel the same way we do and the family connection with my wife, my sons, my mother-in-law, my father… I know how much it means to my father to go to the Big East tournament and to come to 10 UConn games a year at home, sitting courtside , while I’m coaching against Rick Pitino all that behind, there’s probably a number.”

Hurley will return to a UConn team that has a chance to win its third straight national title, a feat that hasn’t been accomplished since John Wooden led UCLA to seven straight championships in the 1960s and 1970s. , Hurley said, the Lakers’ offer was tempting because of the history and prestige attached to the position.

“It’s something I wanted to explore,” Hurley said. “The opportunity to potentially coach the Lakers and coach one of the greatest players of all time and coach one of the best players in the NBA in (Anthony Davis) and lead such a storied franchise and to walk on the sidelines where some of the greatest to ever succeed – Pat Riley and Phil Jackson – (coached) It was something in my mind that I had to explore and consider and see what it was like.”

Hurley spoke to the media later Thursday at UConn’s Werth Champions Center. He told reporters that the Lakers’ offer was “obviously tempting” but that there were too many reasons to stay with the Huskies.

“You think about the two spots you’re trying to choose between. You coach back-to-back champions in UConn or the LA Lakers,” Hurley said. “Few coaches have had to make this choice between these two options for their career.”