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Why Lakers weren't right fit for Hurley

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Regardless of who the Los Angeles Lakers hire to fill their head coaching position, Dan Hurley reminded us this week that the job isn't all it's cracked up to be.

There were factors outside the Lakers' control in their reported $70-million pursuit of Hurley, who's won back-to-back NCAA championships at Connecticut.

College coaches of Hurley's stature enjoy a level of control over their programs and authority over their players they would never have in the modern NBA. Successful college programs often become cults of personality built around their high-profile head coaches, and Connecticut under Hurley is no different.

Beyond the fact his sideline antics would draw ire in the Association, making the NBA leap would see Hurley go from being the most influential man on campus to making less money than almost every rotation player he's barking orders at.

Hurley also has a chance to join legendary UCLA coach John Wooden as the only bench bosses to win three straight Division I men's championships.

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Hurley already has one of the safest and most prestigious coaching jobs in the country and reaps the benefits of a heroic reputation at the most successful basketball school of the 21st century.

Prying him away from all of that for the pressure and instability of the NBA would be an uphill battle for any team. It'd take an offer Connecticut's current godfather couldn't refuse. The Lakers aren't in position to make such an offer.

I don't just mean financially, though that's part of the problem. The Lakers' six-year, $70-million offer may have dwarfed Hurley's current $32.1-million contract - and it might still top Hurley's reported new deal at UConn - but it wasn't the kind of mind-blowing offer required to make the potential pitfalls of a move worth it.

Lakers governor Jeanie Buss takes pride in the Lakers being a uniquely family-run business among pro sports franchises. Her father famously bought the team in 1979, and his 66% share passed to his six children via a trust upon his 2013 death. But the family isn't on a level playing field with the growing list of multi-billionaire owners who now call the NBA their playground.

Team ownership for those rivals is merely an expensive toy. For the Buss family, it's the source of their wealth. There's a difference. The offer to Hurley was less than Detroit spent on Monty Williams last year. The Lakers also famously low-balled another top coaching target five years ago.

Beyond the financials, the Lakers job comes with an awkward uncertainty. LeBron James can opt for free agency this summer, and even if James decides to ride it out with the Lakers, he can't play forever (despite what his greatness might fool us into believing). While the team remains hostage to the King's whims, the end for James in Los Angeles is coming sooner than later, at which point the Lakers will be turned over to Anthony Davis. That transition alone brings a certain uneasiness. Though he did play a career-high 76 games this season, Davis is an injury-prone 31-year-old who's never been the best player on a contending team.

Meanwhile, general manager Rob Pelinka's list of hits is shorter than his misses when it comes to optimizing rosters around L.A.'s stars. He's also looking for his fourth head coach in seven years, a run that included the Lakers firing Frank Vogel two years after Vogel led the franchise to its 17th championship.

Andrew D. Bernstein / NBA / Getty Images

The glitz and glamor of L.A. and the team's gilded history will always give the Lakers a leg up in attracting star talent. It's why James wanted to wear purple and gold for the home stretch of his career, why Davis followed him there, and why they're an underrated threat to trade for an All-Star this summer. Hurley's smart enough to understand all that, yet he's back in Storrs prepping for another season in the Big East rather than enjoying Santa Monica or Venice Beach. That speaks volumes.

It's all very reminiscent of Mike Krzyzewski turning the Lakers down to remain at Duke in 2004. Back then, L.A. was coming off of four NBA Finals appearances in five years, but the team was on the verge of trading Shaquille O'Neal to embark on a Kobe Bryant-led era that wouldn't produce a playoff series victory for another four years.

Like Coach K then, Hurley can see the writing on the wall. It doesn't appear he liked what he saw, no matter how many generic compliments he paid the Lakers.

Can you blame him?

Joseph Casciaro is theScore's senior content producer.

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