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Dan Hurley understandably turns down Lakers rather than walk away from a possible three-peat at UConn

The sport of college basketball doesn’t often produce big headlines in June — but we got one Monday, when Dan Hurley rejected an offer to be the Lakers’ next coach and opted to remain at UConn.

It’s the most sensible ending to this public pursuit.

To be clear, I would’ve understood anything Hurley decided to do because he had two big and lucrative opportunities from which to pick — one that would allow him to leave well enough alone and try to win a third national championship with the Huskies next season, another that would reportedly guarantee him $70 million to coach professional basketball’s most glamorous franchise. Either decision, on some level, would’ve led to a dream come true for most. But the reason I believe Hurley turning down LA to remain at UConn is the most sensible ending to this public pursuit is because — and I’m admittedly projecting here, but the reason is because — I really do believe no matter how well or badly things might’ve gone with the Lakers, Hurley would’ve always wondered if he were right to forfeit the opportunity to become the first coach since John Wooden to win three straight national championships in Division I men’s basketball.

Purdue v Connecticut

After winning the last two NCAA titles, Dan Hurley will try to ‘three-peat’ with UConn. Getty Images

There’s more to it, obviously.

(And I’ll get to that.)

But the chance to make real history at a place you love is a hard thing to forgo — especially when you’ve assembled a team that’s listed as the co-favorite (with Kansas) to win the 2025 NCAA Tournament, according to FanDuel. Also hard: leaving the only time zone you’ve ever really known, and the only time zone your wife (Andrea Hurley) has ever really known, to move roughly 3,000 miles away from most of the rest of your family to coach — yes, the Lakers, but also — the franchise that just finished seventh in the Western Conference with a best player (LeBron James) who will turn 40 later this year. (And that’s if the best player even opts into his contract, which reportedly remains up in the air.) Also hard: accepting a $70 million contract after there were reports that the Lakers would offer $100 million.

(Side note: It’s possible no reasonable or even unreasonable amount of money would’ve gotten this done for the Lakers. But when you’re pursuing the hottest coach in the world — one who has already turned down the University of Kentucky, already made it clear he’s not looking to leave and already made it known that his wife loves living in the part of the country where they live — you have to blow him away with the offer if you really believe he’s the guy. And I know this might sound crazy to normal-working Americans, but an offer of six years and $70 million no longer qualifies as blowing somebody away in the NBA’s coaching marketplace, especially not when the candidate already has an awesome job in place. Had Hurley accepted the Lakers’ offer, he would’ve merely been the second highest-paid coach in LA behind Ty Lue. Given the context of the situation, I’m unsurprised he declined to accept.)

I suppose it’s possible Hurley will someday regret passing on this opportunity with the Lakers — but, again, I bet the more likely hypothetical source of future regret would’ve accompanied leaving UConn right now and under these circumstances. Obviously, that’s me projecting again. But I do believe it to be true. Beyond that, it’s important to understand that Hurley didn’t punt on the NBA forever as much as he merely kicked it down the road. He may never get the chance to coach LeBron and the Lakers again, but he’ll almost certainly be presented with more NBA opportunities in the coming years — NBA opportunities in markets closer to his family’s roots, NBA opportunities where winning immediately and big are more possible than winning immediately and big might’ve been with the Lakers, NBA opportunities that won’t require him to walk away from back-to-back national championships and a team built to win another. Put another way, there will definitely be better times for Hurley to leave UConn, and probably better NBA jobs for him to accept, if he decides someday to further pursue this path. I’m certain he knows and understands that.

So, like I told Tommy Tran on CBS Sports HQ, we could end up doing this entire song and dance again next year because this will not be the last time Dan Hurley is connected to an NBA job. But this time, he decided to remain at UConn. And it really does feel like that’s where he and his family belong — at least for now.

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