The Los Angeles Clippers promoted Ty Lue from assistant coach to head coach to fill the vacancy after Doc Rivers departed LA. Lue, a former NBA point guard out of Nebraska, won two titles as a player with the LA Lakers at the turn of the century. With the addition of Lue, the Clippers didn’t see much movement in their championship futures. According to DraftKings, the Clippers are 4/1 odds to win the 2021 NBA title.
“Ty is a championship head coach with an extraordinary feel for the game and the people who play it,” said LA Clippers head of basketball operations Lawrence Frank. “He’s one of the great minds in our league, and he’s able to impart his vision to others because he connects with everybody he meets. As head coach, Ty will put a unique imprint on the organization, and drive us to new heights.”
|2021 NBA CHAMPIONSHIP ODDS|
- LA Lakers 7/2
- LA Clippers 4/1
- Milwaukee Bucks 5/1
- Golden State Warriors 6/1
- Brooklyn Nets 6/1
- Miami Heat 9/1
As a former NBA veteran with 11 years of experience, Lue is known as a consummate “players’ coach.” He won two titles as a player under Phil Jackson and then won one championship as the head coach of the Cleveland Cavs.
Lue has a career record of 128-83. More importantly, he’s 41-20 in the postseason.
Lue’s Cleveland Glory
Lue teamed up with LeBron James to help bring a championship to the city of Cleveland. After winning two titles with the Miami Heat, LeBron returned to Cleveland for a second stint with the Cavs. After the David Blatt experiment failed, the Cavs turned to Lue, who had no head coaching experience.
The Cavs’ flier on Lue paid off. He guided the 2015-16 Cavs to a championship and ended a title drought for the city of Cleveland. Lue led Cavs to two more trips to the NBA Finals in 2017 and 2018, but they lost to the Golden State Warriors both seasons.
LeBron bolted for Los Angeles before the start of the 2018-19 season. When the LeBron-less Cavs started the season 0-6, ownership fired Lue.
Lue was rumored to take over the Lakers’ job this season, but the team hired Frank Vogel instead. Vogel, LeBron, and the Lakers ran the table inside the NBA Bubble to win the championship.
2020 Clippers Clipped
Lue spent this past season as an assistant coach under Doc Rivers with the LA Clippers. Rivers couldn’t get the Clippers over the postseason hump, where they’ve never advanced to the Western Conference championship. No matter how many great teams the Clippers had in the regular season, they always ran out of gas by the time the Western Conference Semifinals rolled around.
The Clippers were one of three co-favorites to win the NBA championship this season after they added Kawhi Leonard and Paul George to the roster. Then, George slumped in the postseason and struggled with mental health issues inside the NBA Bubble at Disney’s World of Sports. Meanwhile, Leonard couldn’t replicate the same magic he unleashed with the Toronto Raptors the year before during their title run.
The Clippers blew a 3-1 series lead against the Denver Nuggets and were bounced from the postseason when they lost three straight close-out games against the Nugs in the Western Conference Semifinals.
Star (Kawhi) Treatment in LA
There’s no shortage of stars in Los Angeles, but Kawhi Leonard’s treatment rubbed his teammates the wrong way. Veterans on the Clippers were skittish about Kawhi’s “load management,” where Kawhi would miss games without any specific pattern aside for citing rest.
Nor did the team particularly like how management allowed Leonard to live in San Diego. Traffic is always a pain in the butt for SoCal denizens, but the extended commute for Kawhi caused tardiness to practices, meetings, and he’d also hold up the team plane before road trips.
“Players like Patrick Beverley, Montrezl Harrell and Lou Williams — Clippers bedrocks before the arrival of Leonard and George — bristled when Leonard was permitted to take games off to manage his body and to live in San Diego, which often led to him being late for team flights, league sources said,” according to a report from The Athletic. “The team also allowed Leonard to dictate to Doc Rivers when he could be pulled from games, among other things.”
Those are the type of idiosyncrasies that teammates overlook when a team is winning championships. During the NBA Bubble at Disney, the Clippers didn’t have to worry about a late Kawhi, but now, Lue inherits all those festering problems, including the growing divide between Kawhi and the rest of the Clippers.