It’s been a few days since the news broke that the Clippers were bringing on Ty Lue as their head coach, with Larry Drew and Chauncey Billups being his likely lead assistants. Now that we’ve had some time to process, it’s time for grading the Ty Lue hire, as well as assessing his leading men.
Cole Huff: Ty Lue, B+; Chauncey Billups and Larry Drew, A-
The Clippers go the safe route in
hiring Ty Lue – but safe is likely wise in this instance. In perhaps the
biggest season in Clippers history, the Clippers have a guy who already has the
pulse of the team, and has championship experience as former player and more
recently as a head coach. If Lue can incorporate his offensive sets, while
bringing his ability to be flexible and spontaneous in incorporating game plans
as he did in Cleveland’s championship runs, the Clippers will be in good shape.
Billups gets to play the role of lead assistant for his first coaching gig and I couldn’t be more excited. Between his experience and pedigree as a player and Larry Drew’s long resume as a player and coach, the Clippers will have a plethora of basketball expertise flowing throughout the facilities.
Thomas Wood: Shrug
I have no idea how to grade coaching hires, especially on the day of. Other writers on this site with a deeper reserve of tactical knowledge (and time) can elucidate what this means schematically, and even that’s just a fraction of a coach’s responsibilities. Sometimes you’re the Magic and you hire Frank Vogel, and sometimes you’re the Lakers and you hire Frank Vogel. I don’t trust my ability to immediately spot the difference. For any hire short of Phil Jackson or Bill Belichick, I’ll just wait and see.
Kenneth Armstrong: B
I like Ty Lue and I think reshuffling the rest of the assistant staff is smart, but the Clippers lose points for lack of creativity. Ty also needs to articulate to Clippers fans (I assume he convinced Ballmer) why he should not be complicit in the failures of last season.
Erik Olsgaard: Ty Lue, A-; Chauncey Billups, B; Larry Drew, Shoe
Since Doc resigned, I felt the Clippers’ replacement needed to be someone who could match Doc as a player’s coach, fighting in the trenches with the team during these times of political and social unrest, but who would also be an upgrade on strategy and execution that values analytics and makes in-game adjustments. After I read rumors that Kyrie’s beef with Ty in Cleveland may have stemmed from Kyrie ignoring Lue’s analytics-based advice, and tweets from much smarter people than me raving about his X’s and O’s, I knew Ty Lue was the only real choice.
We’ve all had the pleasure of hearing Chauncey as an in-game commentator for a couple seasons now, and he’s always had great insight, intricately detailing how he thinks the Clippers should adjust throughout the game (truly the NBA’s Tony Romo). I’m really sad to lose him as a commentator, but I think he’ll be valuable on the bench. Of course, he’s also an unproven quantity, so that’s why I’ll temper my high expectations with a B-grade.
I know nothing about Larry Drew. I barely remember him as an Eastern Conference coach, but he does have a ton of experience which balances nicely with Chauncey being a newcomer. However, since I am absolutely miserable to see Sam Cassell is no longer one of the lead assistants, I am boycotting this grade and will instead give Larry a grade of “shoe”.
Joey Linn: B
While I would have preferred a more innovative move that did not involve internal hires, I am cautiously optimistic about what Ty Lue can bring next season. The biggest driving force of my optimism is Lue’s reputation of malleability, which was Doc’s shortcoming that ultimately led to the historic collapse last postseason.
Shapan Debnath: Ty Lue, A-; Chauncey Billups, B; Larry Drew, B+
I’ve talked myself into the Ty Lue hire more and more, especially after hearing Cavs beat guy Justin Rowan on an episode of TLTJTP right before this hire. I’m excited about his voice with our stars and his tactical changes as the season goes on. Plus, the guy has undeniable pedigree with the Cavs.
I’m probably giving Chauncey a higher grade just because I’ve enjoyed his color commentary, even though I don’t think it should be a huge rubric for his future coaching performance. It’s nice to have a former finals MVP on the coaching staff for a team that could use a strong voice.
Larry Drew is a guy with a nice amount of pedigree to offset the lack of pedigree from Billups. Seems like a nice guy to have after your head coach.
Robert Flom: Ty Lue, B+: Chauncey Billups, B-; Larry Drew, B+
On one hand, Ty Lue was the lead assistant for a Clippers team that completely collapsed in the playoffs, and with a huge chunk of the blame falling on the coaching staff. Then again, his very closeness to Doc Rivers meant he might not have wanted to push too hard on Doc’s opinions – by all accounts, they have very different coaching philosophies. Ty is someone who has held superstars like LeBron James accountable, made crucial adjustments in playoff series, and has been responsible for excellent offenses and defense. He’s a very good coach who was probably the best hire, even if I have some concerns regarding his ties to the previous staff.
It’s hard for me to get too worked up about assistant coaches. While I thought Billups was a fine color commentator, some of his opinions on the ESPN studio left me scratching my head (at best), which makes me a bit wary of his takes on the modern NBA. That said, he’s a legendary NBA figure known for his leadership and smarts, and should be able to connect well with the players on the team due to his recent playing experience. Larry Drew, meanwhile, has been a coach in the NBA for nearly 30 years, for a wide variety of teams and systems. His vast experience (including some decent head coaching stints) is very nice to have, especially with Billups (and even Lue) being so green.