The first real Clippers’ news in a while dropped today with the report by Woj and Shams, quickly confirmed by the Clippers, that Ty Lue has been extended by the Clippers as their head coach for the next five years, through the 2029 season. This has been rumored for a while, and the Clippers finally got a deal done.

In terms of money, coach deals are rarely truly fully known, but both Woj and Shams have reported that the new deal will pay Ty around $14M per year, making the whole deal around $70M. This is pretty much in line with the new coaching salary ranges that were brought about by Monty Williams’ massive deal in Detroit last summer. Ty will be making less than Monty, Steve Kerr, Gregg Popovich, and Erik Spoelstra, but more than most of the “older” coaching deals. I don’t really care much about coaching salary, as it doesn’t impact the salary cap or any other team building activities, but is purely out of the ownership wallet. Still, a reasonable deal for Ty.

The more interesting element of this deal isn’t the annual value, but the length. Kawhi Leonard, famously, was extended for three more seasons. Paul George, equally famously, is looking for a four-year deal but the Clippers want to keep him on Kawhi’s timeline with a three-year contract. Thus, Ty Lue signing a deal for two years longer than the Clippers’ superstar is fascinating. It would indicate, as Lawrence Frank said in the press release, that the Clippers want Ty to be their head coach for a “very long time”. Or, more bluntly, they see him sticking beyond this core.

What does this mean for the rest of the Clippers’ offseason? In the Woj piece, he mentioned the Clippers are “determined” to bring James Harden and Paul George back. Meanwhile, Shams and Law Murray have both hinted that an Ivica Zubac extension (well deserved for the big fella) could be next. It therefore looks a whole lot like the Clippers are bringing the band back together, at least the true key pieces to the team. All the reporting is that Harden will be back. PG is more up in the air, but recent rumors would seem the wind is blowing towards his return as well.

What do I actually think about the Clippers bringing back Ty Lue? I think many things, but don’t want to get too sidetracked. Ty Lue is nearly impossible to judge, as he was brought in to help the Clippers win a championship, yet has not had his superstar player available to close the playoffs in any of his four seasons with the team. He was promoted over Doc Rivers due to his tactical abilities in the playoffs, yet has only had three series – his first three, in 2021 – where tactics played a big role.

Overall, I think Ty Lue was pretty good in 2021, very good holding a battered team together in 2022, abysmal in 2023, and decent this year. That averages out to a solid tenure, with the somewhat worrying note that his first two seasons were much better than his last two. He’s had some awful decisions regarding rotations, but also seems to be well liked and respected by just about every player who comes through the door. That matters, a lot.

Ultimately, while I think Ty Lue is overrated by the broader NBA media – the terms “elite” and “top 3 coach” get thrown around a lot and he has not justified those in the past couple years – I also think the past few seasons’ failures are more on the front office than on him. I totally understand people who want fresh voices across the board, and sympathize. If the Clippers had moved on from Ty, I would have been on board, depending on who the replacement was. I do still see the vision though to some extent, and Ty returning for me seemed inevitable. Hopefully he lives up to the new deal.

Congrats to Ty Lue on the extension and keep an eye out for further Clippers’ news in the coming weeks. There is a lot still on the docket!

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