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uconn 6 [608x342] - Copy (Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports)

Sources Dinwiddie Mavs agree to 1-year deal

Twenty years ago, the hottest coach in all of college basketball interviewed with the Los Angeles Lakers and made a choice that reverberated through two levels of basketball.

Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski's flirtation with the franchise included a jaw-dropping five-year, $40 million offer that loomed as an industry paradigm-changer back in 2004.

Krzyzewski obviously turned down the money and the overtures of Kobe Bryant, returned to Duke and left there as the winningest coach in college basketball history. The court there is named after him, and he is forever a part of the university's lore as a transformative figure.

A generation later, UConn coach Dan Hurley faces a similar crossroads, as ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reports that Hurley is the target of the Lakers' coaching search. Hurley is fresh off back-to-back national titles -- Krzyzewski had gone back-to-back more than a decade before he made his decision -- and is the hottest coach in the sport.

A fascinating choice awaits in a completely different era: possible collegiate immortality or the risk-reward of coaching the Lakers, which is equal parts sexy and volatile.

Could the talented and impulsive Hurley rewire himself for the completely different temperament needed in the NBA? And is the college game as stable as the one Krzyzewski returned to 20 years ago?

Will Hurley, 51, leave UConn in the middle of his prime and forgo the chance to chase John Wooden as the next NCAA tournament three-peat winner?

Will Hurley take over the Lakers as they recalibrate in the twilight of LeBron James' career and attempt to skip the rebuild that could accompany his departure?

Will Hurley look at the uncertain and disorganized moment of college basketball's nascent foray into becoming professional basketball and decide that actual professional basketball makes more sense?

It's impossible to overstate the stakes here. Hurley's decision ties the top college basketball program over the past quarter century -- UConn has won six national titles since 1999 -- with the future of the NBA's glitziest brand.

What makes the decision for Hurley so compelling is that it's not an easy decision, as both sides have distinct pitfalls and payoffs.

If Hurley stays, he could go on to challenge Krzyzewski as the top modern coach in college basketball. Kansas' Bill Self (61) and St. John's Rick Pitino (71) are the only other current college coaches with multiple titles.

Planning the next 20 years in college, of course, comes with no certainty considering how much seismic change we've seen in the past five. Hurley would need to essentially re-recruit a new roster every year, deal with the vagaries of revenue sharing and NIL and hope the Big East can continue to swing with the two power conferences.

(Hurley has not hid his disdain for the portal, summarized by this fetal position picture.)

UConn doesn't have the ability to pay like the Lakers do, but it will be as fully committed as it possibly can be. The university's identity is wedded to big-time basketball. But over the next decade, when the Big East television contract is inevitably dwarfed by the SEC's and Big Ten's, could that become harder to do?

No one can safely predict what college sports will look like in 10 years, other than projecting that the football dollars of the SEC and Big Ten are going to drive those two leagues into a different financial stratosphere. No one is certain how that trickles down to hoops.

And if there is some kind of breakaway of big-time football down the line, that's a whole other set of headaches. Ones that helped lead coaches Jay Wright, Roy Williams and Coach K to pick retirement over the collective migraines.

But Hurley's significant interest in the job indicates what's obvious to anyone who knows him -- he has the DNA of a Jersey street fighter. Sometimes that edge is his greatest strength, but in the NBA it could be the biggest risk in undercutting his tenure. The theater would be fascinating.

That street fighter will want him to face the challenge of going to the NBA, coaching the greatest modern player in the world and slaying the beast that is the Lakers job.

But that decision comes with the distinct risk of failure and a demand for Hurley to evolve immediately and significantly.

Hurley's players will tell you -- and we've had consecutive Final Four runs of testimonials -- that he brings the innate ability to be so relentlessly focused on winning and developing his players that it can be all-consuming. They balance that, of course, by saying he loves them up off the court. And no one, obviously, is going to argue with recent results.

But can Hurley rechannel that searing focus to the temperament of an NBA player? Could it work in the 82-game grind of an NBA season? Coaches aren't the stars in the NBA like they are in college. Can Hurley adjust to the whims of his players?

There's a successful path for Hurley to follow in college-to-NBA coaches such as Billy Donovan, Brad Stevens and Quin Snyder. They went to organizations that embraced the idea of running an NBA franchise like a college program, based heavily on player development and connection. The player development pedigree is there, and the tactical genius is atop college basketball right now.

Hurley gave one of the all-time self-evaluations in March when he summed up becoming one of the faces of college basketball this way: "I'm basically a high school coach that's like masquerading up at this college level. I don't really care what people necessarily think of my intensity, it obviously shows up the right way with my team. We don't cheat, we don't lie. I think we're about all the right things. Just, at times, I'm an a--hole."

With a father, Bob, who is in the Basketball Hall of Fame as a coach and a brother, Bobby, who was a first-round NBA draft pick, Dan Hurley's psychology have always been fascinating. The flame running hot is hereditary and unflinching.

But there are two things about Hurley's self-assessed character trait that would need to unequivocally change, or his tenure would quickly become a repeat of the long line of college-to-NBA flops.

The first is Hurley would have to completely alter his sideline demeanor and his treatment of officials, as that act is completely unsustainable over the course of an NBA season.

That intensity -- "I am an obsessed coach," Hurley said in March -- that's been the North Star of a career rise from coaching in prep school has resulted in ugly and awkward interactions with officials. (Since Hurley arrived at UConn in 2018-19, the school is third in Division I with 25 technical fouls, per ESPN Stats & Information.)

The other is that he'd have to -- and it's weird to need to say this out loud -- stop interacting with and confronting fans. The site of Hurley yelling at Creighton and Providence fans postgame in the final months of the season -- it's all on YouTube -- would go from local eye roll to national roasting.

If those same interactions happen after an overtime buzzer-beater in Sacramento, it'd be a viral monster and the biggest story in sports the next day. Not just a shoulder shrug about "Danny being Danny."

Ultimately, the choice comes down to this: Stay at a place where you are cherished, your antics are shrugged off and your legacy can echo for generations.

Or you can go to the Lakers, where winning big crosses into pop culture, allows you to tango with Hollywood and compete at the highest level in a more stable league.

Any risk is mitigated, of course, by the fact that some SEC or Big Ten school would embrace his failure for $10 million per year in 2026. And he could go on his merry intensive ways, winning games and reviving his Hall of Fame track. All while expressing the same level of histrionics toward the officials.

Two decades after Krzyzewski chose Duke, another choice looms that will ripple through two billion-dollar industries.

Alert the paparazzi: The Hurley watch is on.