According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the LA Clippers have hired Ty Lue as their new head coach on a 5-year deal contract.
Former Clippers point guard and broadcaster Chauncey Billups will join his staff as a lead assistant, The Athletic’s Shams Charania added. The LA Times’ Brad Turner also reported that Larry Drew will join Lue’s staff.
Lue, a former NBA point guard, was a Clippers assistant coach during the 2013-14 season and again last year. In the interim, he spent 3 seasons as the head coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers, winning over 60% of his regular season games, making the NBA Finals in all three of his playoff runs, and winning the 2016 NBA Championship as a rookie head coach.
Despite a national reputation as a “player’s coach”–a designation regularly used to downplay the tactical abilities of Black coaches–and some concern that Cleveland’s success had more to do with Lebron James than Lue’s coaching, observers close to the Cavaliers team have a very high opinion of Lue’s command of offensive X’s and O’s, defensive game planning, and willingness to experiment and adjust over the course of a playoff series. That’s all in addition to, yes, building foundations for strong relationships in the locker room that allow him to hold stars accountable, most famously calling out Lebron James at halftime of game 7 during the 2016 NBA Finals.
Yesterday, Cavaliers podcaster Justin Rowan joined myself and Robert Flom on 213Hoops’ The Lob, The Jam, The Podcast to discuss Lue’s candidacy–and Justin made a compelling argument in favor of Lue that Clippers fans will want to check out. The podcast is available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and most other podcasting platforms.
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As Lue steps up the Clippers coaching ladder, he will be replaced as lead assistant from outside the locker room but inside the organization, as former NBA point guard and current Clippers broadcaster Chauncey Billups will move to the bench. After a stellar 17-year career that included the 2004 NBA Championship and Finals MVP award with the Detroit Pistons, and a brief stint with the Clippers in 2012 and 2013, Billups retired several years ago and has worked in television while flirting with coaching and front office openings around the league.
Larry Drew, who is joining LAC’s staff as an assistant coach, was also an NBA point guard, playing during the 1980s. His career included a two-year stint with the Clippers in the very early years after the franchise’s move to Los Angeles. Drew has been a longtime NBA assistant, working with the Los Angeles Lakers from 1992-1999, Detroit Pistons from 1999-2000, Washington Wizards from 2000-2003, New Jersey Nets from 2003-2004, and Atlanta Hawks from 2004-2010. In 2010, he became the Hawks’ head coach and saw the team to a 126-101 record in 3 seasons, making the playoffs each year and advancing out of the first round once. He then took the Milwaukee Bucks’ head coaching job and was fired after a 15-67 record in his first season.
Drew moved from Milwaukee to Cleveland, where he was an assistant coach under David Blatt and later associate head coach under Ty Lue, coaching the team to an 8-1 record during Lue’s two-week medical leave in 2018. He then became the Cavaliers’ interim head coach in 2019, after Lebron James’ departure and the team’s separation from Lue, coaching them to a 19-57 record.
The hiring of Lue and Billups follows an interview process that saw the Clippers bring in top assistant coaches from around the league, including Darvin Ham from Milwaukee, Mike Brown from Golden State, and Wes Unseld Jr from Denver.
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