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USA Today Sports Media Group
USA Today Sports Media Group
Bryan Kalbrosky

Dan Hurley as coach of the Lakers makes more sense for Bronny James than it does for LeBron

Early on Thursday morning, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski shocked the NBA world with a report about the Los Angeles Lakers head coaching vacancy.

According to Wojnarowski, the Lakers are preparing a “massive, long-term” contract that would bring UConn Huskies head coach Dan Hurley from the college ranks to the NBA.

This is, obviously, a major change of pace from previous reports indicating that former NBA veteran and ESPN commentator JJ Redick was likely going to accept the gig after he completed his on-air duties for the NBA Finals.

At first blush, this doesn’t seem to make a ton of sense for LeBron James. After all, LeBron co-hosts a basketball podcast with Redick and the two have great chemistry together on the show.

To be clear, that isn’t to suggest that LeBron isn’t a fan of Hurley or what he has accomplished at UConn. In fact, the NBA’s all-time leading scorer posted a reply to a recent podcast appearance featuring Hurley with very high praise.

The host of that podcast was none other than Redick, who may assumed was previously the frontrunner to take over as head coach of the Lakers before the recent report about Hurley surfaced.

LeBron is clearly impressed by Hurley and after two consecutive collegiate national championships, it is easy to see why.

But for all of his accolades and accomplishments that he has earned thus far, what he is most celebrated for is his ability to get the most out of young players. Even in ESPN’s initial report, Hurley’s “elite player development” is unsurprisingly one of the first traits mentioned.

That matters significantly, per Wojnarowski, and could mean a lot to the future of LeBron’s son Bronny:

“Assuming James returns to L.A. in free agency, the possibility of using the 55th pick in this month’s NBA draft on USC freshman guard Bronny James makes Hurley an even more intriguing candidate. If that happens, James gets a chance to play with his son and the benefit of Hurley and his staff becoming responsible for Bronny’s pro development.”

Wojnarowski continued that thought during an appearance on ESPN’s UNSPORTSMANLIKE Radio.

Here is more from Woj:

“You’re gonna have to grow your young players and the idea of Bronny James and the Lakers: They have the 55th pick. Who better potentially than Dan Hurley to be the development coach to lead his growth than the coach who has really dominated the college sport?”

For what it is worth, though, Bronny (a former McDonald’s All-American) did not receive an offer from Hurley and UConn when he was coming out of high school.

But of course, it isn’t just Bronny (who isn’t even on the Lakers roster at this point) that Los Angeles is considering when targeting Hurley.

Wojnarowski added:

“This is a decision and an idea for beyond LeBron James. I think Anthony Davis is at the forefront of this conversation … He wants to have a voice in this. He wants to be on the same page with this new head coach, whoever it is, and see how that new coach may use him, the actions he can put him in.”

Overall, the messaging is that this hire is not about a 39-year-old LeBron and more about the rest of the roster.

Here are some thoughts from ESPN’s Brian Windhorst:

“LeBron told the Lakers they need to make a decision on their head coach that’s not just about me, it’s not just about what’s good for me for this year, next year … It’s going to be about what you need to do for your franchise. It’s going to be about Anthony Davis. That is what he said … He wants the Lakers to do what’s best for their team long-term. If the Lakers make a hire like this, it’s not for LeBron.”

There is a lot to unpack here but the reality is that Hurley has most of his experience coaching players like Bronny, who have the potential to improve but aren’t where they want to be as basketball players quite yet.

Does that mean he is incapable of coaching stars like LeBron and Davis?

We have seen him have tremendous success in the NCAA using NBA-style schemes and systems, so it could potentially translate.

When you watch Hurley coach, you can see why his message resonates well with players Bronny’s age and may not have that same impact on NBA vets. All things considered, this coach seems to make the most sense for a younger roster where the Lakers are a team loaded with experienced pros.

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