Although Kevin Ollie’s negotiations with UConn are underway, a source close to the head coach doesn’t anticipate anything happening this week in regards to a new contract.
The source confirmed that Ollie, a national champion in just his second season, would at least listen to NBA offers.
Late last week, after the resignation of Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni, it was widely reported that Ollie would be a target of the Lakers. It’s also been rumored that the Oklahoma City Thunder, which advanced to the second round of the NBA playoffs, could go after Ollie if it parts ways with coach Scott Brooks after the season. Ollie has connections with the organization: His friendship with superstar swingman Kevin Durant, the league’s MVP, is well-documented, as is his relationship with Thunder GM Sam Presti.
The Lakers job, while intriguing because of its tradition, has its downfalls. The roster is in shambles right now, and the team is likely to go through another trying season in 2014-15 as it waits for marquee free agents to become available.
Respected throughout the NBA, Ollie is an especially enticing candidate because teams figure his presence can help lure free agents. Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kevin Love and Cleveland Cavs point guard Kyrie Irving come off the books in 2015, and Durant is available in 2016.
Ollie grew up in Los Angeles and played for legendary coach Willie West at Crenshaw high school. He was recruited by Jim Calhoun and went 3,000 east to play at UConn. From there, a nomadic 13-year NBA career helped him form connections across the league: 14 of the 16 NBA playoff teams this season had at least one ex-teammate of Ollie’s.
According to an ESPN report Friday, UConn is looking to pay Ollie “in the neighborhood of $2.4 million to $2.6 million annually.” He made roughly $1.3 million this past season.