Russell Westbrook stamps his approval on Dan Hurley rejecting Lakers

Jesse Cinquini
4 Min Read
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

By liking a post on Instagram, former Los Angeles Lakers point guard Russell Westbrook suggested that he thinks University of Connecticut head coach Dan Hurley made the correct decision by not accepting the Lakers’ six-year, $70 million offer and remaining with the Huskies.

Russell Westbrook and Dan Hurley

The NBA world was shocked when reports emerged of the Lakers’ interest in hiring Hurley, who has coached UConn for the past six seasons.

The Lakers are looking for someone to replace the fired Darvin Ham, who recently agreed to join Doc Rivers’ coaching staff with the Milwaukee Bucks as a top assistant coach.

Just a few days prior to Hurley’s decision, NBA analyst Chris Broussard characterized Hurley’s practices as “really intense” and questioned whether LeBron James and Anthony Davis would appreciate his coaching philosophies.

“People have told me his practices — we all know — are really intense,” Broussard said on the subject of Hurley. “They’re really hard — militaristic precision. One person who’s familiar with both of these coaches told me his practices are way harder than Thibs,’ Tom Thibodeau. And we know a lot of players don’t even wanna play for Thibodeau, alright, so he gets after it in practice, and how is that gonna sit with LeBron and A.D. in particular?”

Considering the success that Hurley has seen as the Huskies’ head coach over the past two seasons, it’s easy to understand why he decided to remain at UConn.

Since the start of the 2022-23 campaign, the Huskies have seen more success than any other men’s college basketball team in the nation. UConn has won back-to-back national titles under Hurley, who coached the team to a 31-8 record in the 2022-23 campaign and unbelievable 37-3 record in the 2023-24 season.

The Huskies dominated throughout the NCAA Tournament on their path to a second consecutive title. UConn won all of its tournament games by 14-plus points and beat Purdue University in the title game by 15 points.

Now that Hurley is off the table for Los Angeles, the team will pursue other options as it continues to search for who will be the 29th head coach in the history of the franchise. It’s worth noting that even in light of the rumors connecting Hurley to the Lakers, J.J. Redick — who carved out a 15-year NBA career but has zero coaching experience in the pros — was allegedly still very much in the hunt for the job.

“Now, Hurley, who led Connecticut to back-to-back national championships, has emerged as a legitimate candidate, if not the favorite,” Jovan Buha wrote.

“Team and league sources cautioned that the coaching search remains far from settled. Lakers vice president of basketball operations and general manager Rob Pelinka and governor Jeanie Buss will interview Hurley in a more formal manner on Friday, league sources confirmed. There is still a chance the 51-year-old will work out a new contract with Connecticut and remain college basketball’s top coach. Hurley signed a six-year, $32.1 million deal with Connecticut after the 2023 championship season. His buyout to join the NBA would be roughly $1.9 million.

“Redick, considered the front-runner for weeks, remains a viable candidate, according to league sources.”

Touching on Westbrook’s stint with the Lakers, he did not live up to expectations with the iconic franchise. He spent less than two full seasons in Los Angeles and averaged 17.4 points on 29.7 percent shooting from 3-point range across 130 regular-season games before he was dealt to the Utah Jazz in February of 2023.

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Jesse is a sports journalist with extensive experience covering the NBA. He has worked as a staff writer covering the Lakers’ dreaded rivals, the Boston Celtics, for SB Nation. He has also covered the New York Knicks for The Knicks Wall.