The Los Angeles Lakers are targeting UConn men’s basketball coach Dan Hurley as the franchise’s next coach and are preparing a massive, long-term contract offer to bring the back-to-back NCAA national champion to the NBA, sources told ESPN.

The Lakers have had preliminary contact with Hurley and the sides are planning to escalate discussions in the coming days, sources told ESPN. Hurley has been at the forefront of the Lakers’ search from the beginning of the process, even while the organization has done its due diligence interviewing several other candidates, sources said.

Lakers vice president of basketball operations and general manager Rob Pelinka and governor Jeanie Buss are eager to formally discuss with Hurley their vision of marrying his dominant program — built upon his tactical acumen and his elite player development — with the storied Lakers brand, sources said.

Hurley, 51, has often described his ambition to one day coach in the NBA and has expressed to the Lakers a desire to explore the full picture of a partnership with one of basketball’s winningest franchises, sources said.

The pursuit of Hurley comes on the 20th anniversary of the Lakers trying to hire then-Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski to a record-breaking contract in 2004. Krzyzewski elected to remain with the Blue Devils, but the climate has dramatically changed in college athletics. The demands of NIL fundraising for non-power-football schools such as UConn are an especially relentless grind — and are expected to become even more difficult.

As for the Lakers’ stars, LeBron James has been impressed with Hurley’s sophisticated offensive actions. Assuming James returns to L.A. in free agency, the possibility of using the 55th pick in this month’s NBA draft on USC freshman guard Bronny James makes Hurley an even more intriguing candidate. If that happens, James gets a chance to play with his son and the benefit of Hurley and his staff becoming responsible for Bronny’s pro development.