With several NBA teams searching for a new head coach, Kevin Ollie's name continues to pop up. Fresh off leading the Connecticut Huskies from a No. 7 seed in the NCAA tournament to a national championship, the second-year head coach gave himself plenty of leverage.
Ollie can stay at UConn and continue absorbing his deserved adulation, or he can entertain offers from the NBA and become a millionaire many times over. And with Steve Kerr landing a fat coaching contract despite never having coached basketball in his entire life, Ollie has a clear financial benchmark to top.
According to the Akron Beacon Journal's Jason Lloyd: "One source with knowledge of at least one team’s coaching search said Ollie will want a contract larger than the five-year, $25 million deal the Golden State Warriors handed Steve Kerr."
While the scope of that one source's knowledge sounds pretty limited, that salary expectation is justified for Ollie in comparison to the whopping deal that Kerr received.
Kerr likely used the New York Knicks' interest in his services to drive up his price with the Dubs, and he ended up remaining in California where his family resides. It became a win-win situation for Kerr, and Ollie will seek the same thing.
Ollie never enjoyed significant success in the NBA, though he played for 12 teams over 13 seasons. After engineering UConn's title run behind the superb play of Shabazz Napier and not much else, he may well want to bask in the glory that comes with being a successful college coach.
While at the New York Athletic Club to receive an award for his season, Ollie told the Associated Press Thursday, via The Plain Dealer's Mary Schmitt Boyer: "I love this university. I am not looking for another job."
So, he's staying. Case closed. Right?
Ollie continued by saying: "Of course, you listen to different things. I got two ears, I'm going to listen, but I'm not running out there soliciting any other job."
To recap, he's not looking for another job, he's just listening for another job, namely, a more lucrative job.
As Ollie told the Hartford Courant's Dom Amore about his NBA suitors: "Those guys are persistent and they keep calling no matter what I say, that's just part of the success you've had, the success the university has had. It's a great honor to have options."
Should Kevin Ollie leave UConn to coach in the NBA?
According to Amore, Ollie made $1.6 million last season and has four years remaining on his five-year deal worth $7.5 million. That's very good money, but it sounds like if a team blows him away with an offer in excess of $25 million over five years, he'll jump at it.
The head coaching position remains vacant for the Knicks, Los Angeles Lakers, Minnesota Timberwolves, Cleveland Cavaliers and Utah Jazz. Ollie does not profile as a good fit with the Knicks and Phil Jackson, who has mainly been linked to possible coaches that he has past experience with like Kerr, Derek Fisher and Kurt Rambis.
Coaching the Lakers would be like a dream job for Ollie, and despite the uncertainty about next season's roster in L.A., piloting one of the league's marquee franchises could be too tempting for Ollie to pass up.
As for the T-Wolves, Cavs and Jazz, Ollie should take a hard look at each team's future and decide if he is prepared to take on a coaching gig likely to include copious losses and the distinct possibility of getting fired after two or three losing seasons.
However, if they give him more than $25 million to do so, it would be well worth it.