JJ Redick, Dan Hurley or someone else? Lakers’ coaching search has grown wildly confusing

The Los Angeles Lakers parted ways with Darvin Ham in early May after the Denver Nuggets eliminated them from the playoffs for the second straight season.

The franchise has launched a thorough coaching search since to identify Ham’s replacement, but there have been conflicting reports in recent days — from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and The Athletics’ Shams Charania — regarding who might be the next man up in Los Angeles.

Charania, citing league and industry sources, reported on Tuesday that the Lakers were “zeroing in” on longtime NBA veteran JJ Redick as the front-runner to become the franchise’s next head coach. He did clarify that no decision had been made yet, and that the team still had steps remaining in their search but wrote that Los Angeles has been “infatuated” with Redick’s potential and views him as a candidate who checks multiple boxes in terms of what the team is looking for in its next head coach.

Mike Krzyzewski, Redick’s former college coach at Duke University, has reportedly acted as unofficial resource for the Lakers during the team’s search. He obviously has more insight into Redick’s nature than most, on and off the court.

Redick also hosts a podcast called “Mind the Game” with franchise cornerstone LeBron James, which has led some to believe that their relationship is why Los Angeles views him so fondly, although Charania has reported that James has distanced himself from the team’s decision.

Here is where the mass confusion sets in. On Thursday morning, Wojnarowski, citing his own sources, reported that the Lakers are prepared to offer University of Connecticut men’s basketball coach Dan Hurley a “massive, long-term” contract offer to become the franchise’s next head coach — with talks expected to escalate in coming days.

Wojnarowski said that Hurley, fresh off back-to-back national championships with UConn, has been the Lakers’ preferred choice since the beginning, although the organization has done its due diligence. Other than Hurley and Redick, other candidates for the job include New Orleans Pelicans assistant James Borrego, Boston Celtics assistant Sam Cassell and Denver Nuggets assistant David Adelman, according to Wojnarowski.

So, should Redick or Hurley be viewed as the true front-runner for the Lakers’ head coaching vacancy? Does Charania or Wojnarowski have the most accurate sources in this specific case? At this point it feels like the Lakers — and those with intimate knowledge around the organization — are the only ones who can truly answer that question.

However, it is worth noting that Charania and The Athletic’s Sam Vecenie did publish a story on Thursday that Hurley and the Lakers have engaged in contract talks. Maybe neither Charania or Wojnarowski got it wrong, and the Lakers simply decided to pivot from Redick to Hurley after additional internal discussions since Tuesday. Charania and Wojnarowski are both considered to be the best in the business when it comes to NBA news-breaking.

It is even harder to determine who would be a better potential fit for the Lakers between Redick and Hurley.

Redick, who played 15 seasons in the league with six teams and was a 41.5% career 3-point shooter, has served as a media analyst and podcast host in recent years since retirement. He reportedly has not coached above the youth level, so the Lakers — a team that is expected to contend for championships whether James is on the roster or not — would be taking quite the risk by hiring him, while his basketball knowledge and relationships with players have been universally praised.

Then on the other hand you have Hurley, a two-time national champion at the college level who grinded his way up from the high school ranks after playing point guard at Seton Hall University from 1991-96. While Hurley did not play in the NBA like Redick, he still played the game at a high level nonetheless and is far more proven in terms of pure coaching acumen. UConn has gone 52-5 over their last 57 games under Hurley and losing him to the NBA would obviously be a devastating blow to the program.

The Huskies have the No. 10 recruiting class in 2024, according to 247Sports’ composite rankings. In the collegiate Transfer Portal era, losing a coach of Hurley’s caliber — in blindsiding fashion at that — could be crippling in terms of recruiting and retaining talent already on the roster. Hurley just signed a six-year, $32.1 million deal to remain at UConn last year. That contract will require a $1.875 million buyout if he leaves the program for an NBA head-coaching position, according to Charania.

James obviously has a lot of respect for his podcast partner Redick, but he also praised Hurley after hearing him speak about UConn’s offense on Redick’s personal “The Old Man and the Three” podcast, writing on X, “He’s so DAMN GOOD!!! Along with this staff. Super creative with their O! Love it.”

Hurley has not made any public comments on the Lakers’ coaching search at this point. But Redick, who will be an analyst for the NBA Finals that begin on Thursday, did. Speaking recently on the “GoJo and Golic” podcast, he said all the rumors will be addressed once the NBA season is over.

“I would say this, my focus right now is on calling the NBA Finals,” Redick said. “I’m so fortunate that I’m in this position to call these Finals with Doris [Burke] and Mike [Breen]. My day-to-day right now is consumed with calling games, the 19 different podcasts I feel like I have [and] my obligations to all of our partners, so my focus is on the NBA Finals.”