Udonis Haslem offers major stamp of approval in regards to Lakers targeting Dan Hurley

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Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Miami Heat legend Udonis Haslem shared his thoughts on the recent reports that the Los Angeles Lakers are targeting Dan Hurley to be their next head coach.

Hurley is currently the head coach of the University of Connecticut men’s basketball team and led UConn to back-to-back national titles in the 2022-23 season and 2023-24 campaign.

“I love it,” Haslem said of the Lakers reportedly targeting Hurley. “I love shaking things up a little bit. Oftentimes, when you have NBA veterans that have had an amount of success, we get comfortable. And I think for the Lakers, if they want to get back in those championship conversations – if they’re going to be considered a serious contender in the West – they gotta get back comfortable being uncomfortable.

“So, I think bringing in a different personality, somebody with a little bit of energy – if you look at his track record what he did at Wagner [College], his best season was about 25-6, something like that. I think what he did at [the University of] Rhode Island, he won about 60 percent of his games. And obviously, we know what he did at UConn.

“So, bringing in somebody that’s going to get these guys back comfortable being uncomfortable, I think we can now start to put these guys back in those championship conversations because they have the talent with Bron (LeBron James) and A.D. (Anthony Davis). I think they just gotta get these guys out of their comfort zone. I think understanding that just because Bron doesn’t have to practice every day doesn’t mean everybody doesn’t have to practice every day. Those guys still need to be getting their – honing their skills and still building those habits.

“And I think this is a great move for the Lakers. This is what I’m talking about. I love this move for the Lakers. I think they got it right if they can get this one to go through.”

Haslem is a former teammate of James and won three NBA titles in his career, including two alongside the Lakers star in Miami.

Hurley certainly would be a different hire for Los Angeles since he has never held a head coaching position at the NBA level, but his success in the collegiate game is undeniable.

Over the last four seasons, UConn has made the NCAA Tournament in each campaign under Hurley, and he also led Rhode Island to back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances before taking the UConn job ahead of the 2018-19 season.

The Athletic’s Sam Vecenie praised Hurley on social media following the report from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, shouting out his ability to not only coach the X’s and O’s of basketball, but also to get his team ready to play on a nightly basis.

Hurley showed that in the 2023-24 season, as UConn stormed through the NCAA Tournament, winning every game by double digits on its way to a second straight national title. He didn’t let his team’s effort slip no matter the opponent in the postseason.

The Lakers have had three different coaches since James signed with the franchise ahead of the 2018-19 season: Luke Walton, Frank Vogel (who won a title in the 2019-20 season) and Darvin Ham, all of whom had NBA backgrounds in their coaching and/or playing careers.

Hurley certainly differs from the three, but it could be just what the Lakers need for their current roster.

Los Angeles is looking to get back to the NBA Finals in the 2024-25 season for the first time since winning it all in the 2020 NBA Finals. The Lakers did reach the Western Conference Finals in their first season under Ham, but they were knocked out in the first round of the playoffs this season.

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Peter is a graduate of Quinnipiac University where he covered the MAAC and college basketball for three years. He has worked for NBC Sports, the Connecticut Sun and the Meriden Record-Journal covering basketball and other major sports. Follow him on Twitter @peterdewey2.