June 15, 2024

Lakers Rumors: Jay Wright Linked as ‘Stealth’ HC Candidate Amid Dan Hurley Buzz | News, Scores, Highlights, Stats, and Rumors

VILLANOVA, PA - FEBRUARY 8: Jay Wright, former Head Coach of Villanova Mens Basketball  talks to the media after Jalen Brunsons jersey retirement on February 8, 2023 at Finneran Pavilion in Villanova, Pennsylvania. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2023 NBAE (Photo by Mary Kate Ridgway/NBAE via Getty Images)

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Former Villanova men’s basketball head coach Jay Wright could be a “stealth candidate” to become the Los Angeles Lakers’ next head coach, NBA insider Marc Stein reported Sunday.

The Lakers have previously been tied with an interest in ESPN analyst JJ Redick, per The Athletic’s Shams Charania.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski then reported last week that the team was preparing a “massive” offer for UConn men’s basketball head coach Dan Hurley.

“I know that there is great interest in the backstory here …. whether Hurley indeed was the Lakers’ dream target all along or if the Lakers increased the intensity of their Hurley courtship more recently because of 11th-hour doubts about Redick or anyone else in the process,” Stein wrote. “(I had been warned early on by one well-placed insider, for what it’s worth, to stay ready in case former Villanova coach Jay Wright emerged as a stealth candidate.)”

Stein concluded: “That backstory is sure to surface sooner rather than later … presumably soon after the Lakers do or don’t land Hurley.”

Wright coached at Villanova from 2001 to 2022. He led his team to national championships in 2016 and 2018.

Los Angeles is looking to replace Darvin Ham, whom the team fired in May after two seasons.

The news that the Lakers had decided on Hurley as a front-runner to step into Ham’s shoes came as a surprise, according to The Athletic’s Jovan Buha, who reported the organization’s pursuit of Hurley “was kept secret from the public and even several key Lakers decision-makers.”

The Lakers and Hurley met Friday in Southern California in order to discuss a potential contract, Wojnarowski reported.

Wright retired from coaching after leading Villanova to the Final Four in 2022. He said in his retirement press conference that he “didn’t have the edge” he had used to have when beginning his coaching career.

The former Villanova coach said soon after retirement that he might reconsider returning to coaching “down the road.” He has since been connected to head coaching jobs with the San Antonio Spurs and Philadelphia 76ers.

Wright, now a CBS Sports analyst, said in February that he was “definitely done coaching” when asked about coming out of retirement to take the head coaching job at Ohio State. He was similarly firm in April about not considering taking the head coach job at Kentucky.

If anything could draw Wright out of retirement, the opportunity to coach Anthony Davis, and potentially LeBron James, could be it. But Wojnarowski’s reports indicate the Lakers are set on courting Hurley, so Wright’s likelihood of taking the job might come into play only if Hurley decides to return to the NCAA in an effort to coach the Huskies to a championship three-peat.