Two weeks after parting ways with their former head coach Doc Rivers, the Los Angeles Clippers are finalizing a five-year deal with assistant coach Tyronn Lue. Lue has been an assistant coach with the Clippers since the beginning of the 2019-2020 season.
Prior to his time in Los Angeles, Lue coached for the Cleveland Cavaliers. He started as an associate head coach during the 2015-2016 season but took the helm of the team when the former coach, David Blatt, was fired. That year, he led the Cavaliers to a championship.
The Clippers are a talented, but disjointed group. After ranking second in the Western Conference with a 49-23 in-season record, they lost to the Denver Nuggets in the second round of the 2020 Playoffs.
One could argue the squad lacked chemistry. However, Lue dealt with internal issues when he coached the Cavaliers to a championship. Throughout the 2019-2020 season, Lue had been building a relationship with Clippers players.
“The pieces we need are in place – committed ownership, smart management and elite talent, on and off the court, in the NBA’s best market,” Lue said. “My familiarity with the organization, particularly Mr. Ballmer and Lawrence, confirmed this is where I want to be. We have work to do to become champions, but we have the motivation, the tools, and the support to get there. I’m excited to get started.”
Sources say that 2004 NBA Finals MVP Chauncey Billups and Larry Drew will be members of the coaching staff.
At the beginning of the 2018-2019 season, the Cavaliers went 0-6 and Lue was fired. He had a 128-83 overall in-season record as the head coach of Cleveland and led them to three NBA Finals appearances with a 41-20 Playoffs record.
In 2019, Lue was negotiating with the Los Angeles Lakers for a head coach position. It was a three-year $20 million deal and the franchise wanted to choose Lue’s coaching staff. Lue did not like the short-term contract nor the lack of freedom in choosing his coaching staff, so the deal dissolved.
Got our guy. pic.twitter.com/rpoUZ4QAoI
— LA Clippers (@LAClippers) October 20, 2020
Lue is inheriting a franchise that has been bettered by Rivers. In his seven years coaching the Clippers, he took the team to the Playoffs six times and reached the second round four times.
Lue also interviewed with the New Orleans Pelicans and the Houston Rockets before choosing the Clippers. He and the Clippers are in the process of finalizing the terms of his new contract.
Lue played 11 years in the NBA, being the 23rd overall pick in the 1998 Draft. The Denver Nuggets acquired Lue, but traded him to the Los Angeles Lakers on Draft Night. He ultimately won two championships with the Lakers before playing for several other teams, including the Washington Wizards, the Houston Rockets, and the Milwaukee Bucks.
The Clippers shopped around before choosing Lue. Franchise assistant Sam Cassell, Cavaliers coach Mike Brown, and Denver assistant Wes Unseld Jr. also interviewed for the head coach position.