Report: Kevin Ollie Formally Contacted by NBA Teams for Coaching Jobs

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Report: Kevin Ollie Formally Contacted by NBA Teams for Coaching Jobs
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Despite several available names with established NBA head coaching experience, Kevin Ollie remains a prime candidate to fill a head coaching vacancy.

According to RealGM's Shams Charania, several teams have already reached out to the UConn coach.

Charania elaborated on the news:

Ollie heard inquiries from NBA teams in recent days, and UConn’s plans to extend the freshly minted national championship coach have moved along, too. Nevertheless, Ollie has engaged in firm discussions in the NBA – nearing the stage of interviewing with a team, sources told RealGM. With Ollie on a busy schedule, no interview is slated to take place during the Chicago predraft combine, sources said.

It's too early to say which teams have the most interest in Ollie, but Charania notes that the Los Angeles Lakers have "yet to formally reach out to Ollie."

Rumors surfaced earlier in May suggesting that the 41-year-old would meet with the Lakers at some point, but Ollie subsequently stated he's focused on UConn exclusively at this point.

The interest in Ollie isn't especially surprising. He took the Huskies to a national championship this season and is well-connected in NBA circles thanks to his extensive career as a player in the pros.

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According to ESPN.com's Jeff Goodman (h/t Kurt Helin of Pro Basketball Talk), several NBA executives predicted the interest in Ollie:

'It’s just a matter of time,' said one NBA general manager. 'The league will come calling. He’s a great communicator and has a calm demeanor. This win alone, however, doesn’t just tilt the scale. It breaks it.'

'He would be excellent,” another GM said following Monday night’s victory. “He’s a stud. He understands the NBA, he’s a leader, has faced adversity and fought through it.'

One NBA executive told me that whichever team (or teams) makes a run after Kevin Durant when he becomes a free agent, 'will throw the whole ATM after [Ollie].'

The latter comment stems from Durant's fondness for Ollie. Earlier this season, he praised the coach's "mindset" and "professionalism" to Bill Simmons on a BS Report podcast.

As CTPost.com's Paul Devlin put it, "Ollie earned league-wide respect as a tough, smart, and savvy point guard. He may have not achieved all-star status, but to the countless players he mentored, Ollie was an MVP."

Ollie and Connecticut began negotiations on a hefty raise and extension well over a week ago. Though he seems content with where he is, one can only speculate that part of the reason a deal hasn't been finalized is that NBA interest has complicated things.

According to ESPN.com's Andy Katz, "sources said UConn is looking to pay Ollie in the neighborhood of $2.4 million to $2.6 million annually. One source said it would take 'something substantial' for Ollie to leave UConn -- perhaps an offer from the Los Angeles Lakers or another NBA franchise."

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The New York Knicks, Golden State Warriors, Minnesota Timberwolves, Utah Jazz and Cleveland Cavaliers also remain in the hunt for a new head coach.

As noted by ESPN.com's Ian Begley and Ramona Shelburne, the Knicks and Warriors have been repeatedly linked to Steve Kerr among others, but Ollie could be the fresh face other franchises are looking for.

Though he doesn't have previous head coaching experience in the NBA, Ollie appears to be a star in the making. He'd be a strong fit for any organization looking to hit the reset button and acquire a young coach who could grow along with the roster.

The trick will be prying him away from Connecticut.

According to The Hartford Courant's Dom Amore, Ollie isn't especially eager to go anywhere: 

I love this university. I'm not looking for another job. Of course, you listen to different things — I got two ears so I'm going to listen — but I'm not going out there soliciting any other job. I want to be here at the University of Connecticut.

Could a team like the Lakers change that thinking? While it may seem hard to pass up opportunities on a bigger stage, this probably won't be the last summer Ollie has some suitors.

Even if he sticks with the Huskies for now, he'll have his chances to coach in the NBA soon enough.

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