Shams Charania furthered his cold war with Adrian Wojnarowski while discussing the Los Angeles Lakers' pursuit of Dan Hurley. Screen grab: ‘Run it Back’

The Los Angeles Lakers’ pursuit of Dan Hurley reached its conclusion on Monday with the two-time national champion head coach turning down the job to remain at UConn.

But when it comes to the ongoing rivalry between Shams Charania and Adrian Wojnarowski, the NBA insiders’ Cold War is very much ongoing.

The latest not-so-subtle salvo was fired on Tuesday, as Charania appeared on FanDuel TV’s Run It Back. Discussing the latest developments in the Lakers’ coaching saga, The Athletic/Stadium/FanDuel insider noted that Hurley turning down the job — and a reported $20 million raise — leads one to wonder how authentic his interest in Los Angeles actually was.

“He was not the No. 1 candidate, the No. 1 guy to go pursue from the start, from the beginning. But they felt like there was an opening there,” Charania said of the Lakers’ interest in Hurley. “At the end of the day, Dan Hurley chose not to leave. He chose to stay for $20 million less at UConn… it does beg the question around the league, was there genuine interest? Was this a genuine process with this?” Charania said. “Or was this just about leverage?”

Taken at face value, Charania’s reporting might seem fairly benign — perhaps even a logical conclusion considering the way the Lakers’ failed pursuit of Hurley played out. But when paired with the larger context of Wojnarowski’s reporting on the matter, it’s understandable why many are viewing it as a direct response.

After all, Woj’s first story on the Lakers’ interest in Hurley came just days after Charania reported that Los Angeles was “zeroing in” on JJ Redick as the frontrunner for its head coaching vacancy. Despite Charania reporting that Redick was the first candidate to receive an “extended meeting” with the Lakers, Wojnarowski was still reporting as of Monday that the former shooting guard had yet to formally interview with the team.

While that could be chalked up as a matter of semantics, it’s impossible to ignore the Wojnarowski and Charania’s shared history as former colleagues-turned-rivals. As recently as last month, Wojnarowski took an apparent shot at his former protegeé, asking “who gives a f***?” about reporters’ screen time — a sports insider trope most commonly linked to Shams.

This isn’t the first time that Wojnarowski and Charania have had conflicting reports and it’s also worth noting that the ESPN insider has a personal connection to the Hurley family — which many have been quick to draw attention to. Even prior to Monday’s announcement that the Huskies head coach would be staying in Storrs, Bill Simmons floated the theory that the entire story was merely a ploy to increase his value at UConn, with Wojnarowski doing his bidding while conveniently discrediting his rival.

“You can’t sleep on the Woj-Shams thing either,” Simmons said on The Bill Simmons Podcast. “Shams reports that JJ’s getting the job. And then Woj comes back with the ‘Wait a second,’ which I think is a piece too. ‘Is he getting the job? What about Hurley?’ And then boom. So one of those two guys is going to be wrong.”

Even if that person now appears to be Woj, he has plausible deniability in the Lakers and Hurley’s interest in each other being mutual, even if it didn’t result in a deal getting done. That is, of course, unless that interest was ultimately manufactured, which is why it was notable to see Charania draw attention to such a possibility on Tuesday.

[Run It Back]

About Ben Axelrod

Ben Axelrod is a veteran of the sports media landscape, having most recently worked for NBC's Cleveland affiliate, WKYC. Prior to his time in Cleveland, he covered Ohio State football and the Big Ten for outlets including Cox Media Group, Bleacher Report, Scout and Rivals.