After taking home college basketball's biggest prize in just his second season as a head coach, UConn's Kevin Ollie—a former NBA player—could already be thinking of a return to the league. The Los Angeles Lakers are expected to be calling.
“He’ll listen, but he’s real committed to his alma mater,” Medina's source said.
The Lakers' job opened up earlier in the week after Mike D'Antoni resigned with a year left on his contract. According to the Los Angeles Times' Mike Bresnahan, Ollie is on the team's star-studded laundry list of potential candidates:
Lakers will interview George Karl, Jeff Van Gundy, Byron Scott and Rambis for coaching vacancy. Also, as reported earlier, Calipari + Ollie— Mike Bresnahan (@Mike_Bresnahan) May 1, 2014
Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski reports that Ollie is in the midst of contract extension talks with UConn, but is willing to field offers from NBA teams:
University of Connecticut coach Kevin Ollie has started discussions on a new contract with school officials, but hasn't ruled out listening to NBA overtures, sources told Yahoo Sports.
Fresh off his masterful national championship coaching run this spring, Ollie is a consideration for the Los Angeles Lakers and is expected to move onto short lists as more NBA teams make coaching changes, league sources told Yahoo Sports.
So far, no NBA teams have reached out to make formal contact with Ollie, sources said.
Both Medina and Wojnarowski referenced Ollie's Southern California roots in relation to the Lakers job. The 41-year-old Ollie was raised in L.A. and graduated from Crenshaw High School.
The Lakers, never ones to shy away from flashy acquisitions, may see Ollie as a potential gateway to Kevin Durant. Durant will hit unrestricted free agency in 2016 and has noted Ollie as one of his favorite prior teammates. The two were paired on the 2009-10 Oklahoma City Thunder during Ollie's last pro season.
Kevin Ollie, he was a game-changer for us. He changed the whole culture, I think. He might not say it, but I think he changed the whole culture in Oklahoma City.
[Ollie's] mindset, his professionalism, every single day. And we all watched that, we all wanted to be like that, and it rubbed off on Russell [Westbrook], myself, Jeff Green, James Harden. And you know, everybody that comes through now, there’s a standard you’ve got to live up to as a Thunder player. And that started with Kevin Ollie.
Whoever ends up leading the Lakers will be in charge of one of the league's most prominent franchises, but will also find themselves in a daunting position.
The Lakers are coming off a 27-win season, their worst since 1959-60. The team will have ample salary-cap space this summer, but may opt to save it for 2015 to covet Kevin Love or 2016 if it believes it has a shot at Durant.
Ollie is in a favorable spot at the moment with his alma mater, so it's reasonable to believe that Los Angeles would need to make a pretty sizable offer to lure him away from the college ranks.