Tyronn Lue

Tyronn Lue The Best Choice For Brooklyn?

Tyronn Lue is expected to receive serious consideration to become the next head coach of the Nets, with oddsmakers in Las Vegas listing him as the early favorite, writes Greg Logan of Newsday. Brooklyn will be in the market for a coach once the season officially ends after parting ways with Kenny Atkinson last weekend.

Lue’s previous experience coaching Kyrie Irving in Cleveland makes him an obvious candidate, and current Laker Jared Dudley believes a reunion could be successful.

“T. Lue respected Kyrie,” Dudley said. “He loved Kyrie. He wanted the best for him. Every time he talked to him, it might be to calm down a situation and show him what he wanted. I could easily see it. T. Lue can walk into a room and every player is going to ‘dap’ him up because they respect him. Every ex-player who becomes a coach doesn’t always get the respect, but he put the work in.”

Lue was briefly the front-runner for the Lakers’ head coaching job last year, but he turned down an offer because he wanted a longer commitment and more say in hiring his staff. He eventually accepted a job with the Clippers as Doc Rivers’ lead assistant.

Another possible candidate is Lakers assistant Phil Handy, who was a developmental coach in Cleveland when Irving was there. Irving tried to convince him to join Brooklyn’s staff last summer, according to Brian Lewis of The New York Post.

Lewis talked to Nets guard Joe Harris, another former Cavalier, who gave strong endorsements to Lue and Handy.

“They’re both excellent coaches, Ty Lue especially,” Harris said. “Playing in this league, being an assistant for a long time, just the way he was able to relate with the players, especially just day-to day was pretty unique in terms of a coaching perspective. I always liked that about him, just his ability to jell and mesh with everybody. He seemed like, to me, to be one of those guys when he did play he was probably close with everybody in the locker room, just the way he was able to interact with every single guy on the team.”

The Latest On Kenny Atkinson

Kenny Atkinson‘s surprising departure as coach of the Nets on Saturday may have been instigated by his players, but it was a mutual decision, according to Brian Lewis of The New York Post. Sources tell Lewis that Kyrie Irving bears much of the responsibility for the move, but Atkinson has understood for months that a change might be necessary.

“Kenny and I had these pretty frank conversations. And it wasn’t last night, 24 hours; there wasn’t one game,” general manager Sean Marks said. “This was a culmination of events over the course of the year. Kenny’s brutally honest, and the humility he showed to admit ‘My voice is not what it once was here. It’s time.’ This is a compromise that Kenny and I and ownership came up with; it was time. Kenny grinded and did everything he could, but it was time for another voice in that locker room, and it’s our job to find it.”

Marks and owner Joe Tsai gave Atkinson credit for helping to turn around a franchise that was among the league’s worst when he took over in 2016. He has the Nets on track for their second straight playoff appearance, but what the organization wants in a coach apparently shifted after last summer’s free agency bonanza that brought in Irving and Kevin Durant. Neither of them offered comment on Atkinson’s departure, but the players who did insist that they weren’t involved in the decision.

“I absolutely [had] no ‘Fire Kenny’ conversations with Sean, so I don’t know, not a part of that,” Spencer Dinwiddie said. “It’s not like I called Joe on the phone and was like, ‘Hey you making any moves?’ I like to think we’re cool, but not that cool.”

Lewis adds that one of the first actions from interim coach Jacque Vaughn was to talk to Irving and other players about what changes they would like to see.

“It’s a service business. I’m serving these guys. I’m just a vessel,” Vaughn said. “It’s today’s game and being able to adjust to that, getting the most out of talent on your roster, but also listening and hearing the voices of the No. 1, 2, 3, 4 guys on your roster. It’s crucial, and having that relationship is a must in today’s game.”

There’s more fallout from this season’s most surprising coaching change:

  • Irving would like to see the Nets hire Tyronn Lue, his former head coach in Cleveland, reports Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports. Currently an assistant with the Clippers, Lue took the Cavaliers to three straight NBA Finals, including two with Irving as his point guard. Irving didn’t like Atkinson’s “rigid” coaching methods and clashed with him almost immediately, sources tell Goodwill. Multiple sources also say Atkinson didn’t mesh with his two new stars and wasn’t looking forward to coaching them next season when both will presumably be healthy. “Oh, it was definitely mutual,” a league source said.
  • Alex Schiffer of The Athletic talked to sources around the league and compiled a list of candidates to potentially become the Nets’ next head coach. Vaughn’s name is on the list along with some familiar candidates such as Jeff Van Gundy, Tom Thibodeau, Mark Jackson and former Nets star Jason Kidd. A few possibilities without head coaching experience are Darvin Ham, Ime Udoka, Brian Keefe and Adam Harrington.
  • Atkinson may be the perfect choice to take over the cross-town Knicks, suggests Greg Joyce of The New York Post. New York is trying to rebuild with a collection of unproven young talent, much like Brooklyn was when Atkinson was hired there, and he is represented by Creative Artists Agency, which was run by new Knicks president Leon Rose“It seems like he’s very well respected within players, within the league — players he coached and players he didn’t coach,” said Knicks forward Julius Randle. “I know I respected him.”

Cavs Notes: Drummond, Thompson, Lue, Post-LeBron Era

Andre Drummond thought he was being pranked when he heard about the trade to the Cavaliers, but now he’s excited for the opportunity, writes Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. Drummond went through his first practice with the team yesterday and is expected to make his debut tonight.

“I was truly excited to be somewhere I’m wanted, really happy to start a new chapter here,” he said. “I’m just looking forward to being with the guys. I’m just looking forward to playing in a Cleveland Cavalier jersey. Everything happens for a reason. I look at it as a bright note for me, for my family to start somewhere new and be with a great group of guys.”

Drummond quickly acclimated himself to his new surroundings, Fedor states. His new teammates were welcoming, including Tristan Thompson, who will move to the bench as Drummond becomes the starting center.

“I’m not taking anybody’s job, I’m just here to play,” Drummond said. “I didn’t come here expecting anything. I’m just here to do my job, whatever they need me to do, I’ll get it done.”

There’s more from Cleveland:

  • The chance to add Drummond didn’t arise until Wednesday night, Fedor relays in a separate story. Cavs general manager Koby Altman told his staff to think about it overnight, and the consensus was that the price — the expiring contracts of John Henson and Brandon Knight plus a future second-round pick — was too good to refuse. “I’m sure Detroit has a plan in place in terms of what they want to do either with their cap space or with their future trajectory as a franchise, but our job is to make sure we’re exploring every opportunity out there and making sure we’re doing what’s best for our franchise,” Altman said. “Adding a talent of this magnitude is something that we couldn’t pass up and he also fits our timeline in terms of his age — he’s 26 years old — so he fits with some of our younger guys.”
  • As Clippers assistant Tyronn Lue prepares to return to Cleveland tonight, he tells Joe Vardon of The Athletic that he wishes he could still be coaching the Cavaliers. “What I tried to build there, I think the culture I tried to set … I thought we could do it together,” Lue said. “Koby being a young GM, me being a young coach, having young players. I won a championship there, so you have a chance and an opportunity to do something different, and you should have that leeway to be able to go through a couple challenging years. To win a championship and go to the (NBA) Finals should buy you a little time, you would think.”
  • Jason Lloyd of The Athletic examines why the Cavs have struggled so much after losing LeBron James for a second time, when they were believed to be in a better position than in 2010.

Central Notes: Drummond, Lue, Cavs, Bulls, Rose

It appears likely that the Pistons will ultimately make a deal involving Andre Drummond before the trade deadline, writes James L. Edwards III of The Athletic. However, teams aren’t offering first-round picks right now for the big man, per Edwards, who notes that initial talks between the Pistons and Hawks only involved expiring contracts.

While those offers seem likely to improve by February 6, it still remains unclear how much teams will be willing to give the Pistons for a player who could be had in free agency this summer. Edwards examines a few rumored suitors, arguing that the Hawks and Hornets make more sense than clubs like the Knicks, Celtics, and Cavaliers.

As Edwards explains, both Atlanta and Charlotte will have plenty of cap flexibility to sign Drummond this offseason, but haven’t historically been popular destinations for free agents. Giving up an asset for the Pistons’ center now and getting him familiar with the organization for a few months before free agency could give those clubs a leg up on a long-term deal in the summer, Edwards writes.

As we wait to see what happens with Drummond, here’s more from around the Central:

  • Now a top assistant for the Clippers, Tyronn Lue admits that he wishes he were still the Cavaliers‘ head coach, per Joe Vardon of The Athletic. “Yeah, I do,” Lue said after a long pause. “What I tried to build there, I think the culture I tried to set … I thought we could do it together. Koby (Altman) being a young GM, me being a young coach, having young players. I won a championship there, so you have a chance and an opportunity to do something different, and you should have that leeway to be able to go through a couple challenging years. To win a championship and go to the Finals should buy you a little time, you would think.”
  • The Bulls‘ first half didn’t play out like the team had hoped, but head coach Jim Boylen insists there have been positive signs of progress over the last three months, as K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago details. “I’m not discouraged. I’m kind of excited that we have established some things,” Boylen said. “Our shot profile is top-five in the league. Our defense on any given day is between five and nine, top-10 in the league. That’s what we’re building. And we’ll continue to work.”
  • Derrick Rose has been one of the Pistons‘ most valuable players this season and is helping the team stay competitive, but head coach Dwane Casey doesn’t want the veteran guard playing 30+ minutes per night, as he has recently. Chris McCosky of The Detroit News takes a look at Casey’s dilemma.

Knicks Reportedly “Obsessed” With Masai Ujiri

The Knicks are “obsessed” and “enamored” with Raptors executive Masai Ujiri as the next man to run the franchise, sources tell Ian Begley of SNY.tv. A front office shakeup is expected in the wake of yesterday’s firing of head coach David Fizdale, especially considering the poor track record of team president Steve Mills.

Begley speculates it would take “significant money and full autonomy” to land Ujiri, who is already in a comfortable spot after building a championship team. Even if the Knicks are willing to grant that, Ujiri may not want to work for a controversial figure like James Dolan, and he is signed with Toronto until 2021, a contract he said in October that he plans to honor.

Echoing a report we shared last week, Begley states that the Knicks believe Ujiri could be drawn to New York City to provide a larger platform for his charitable work with the Giants of Africa Foundation. However, there was similar speculation about Washington, D.C., a few months ago when the Wizards were restructuring their front office, and Ujiri opted to stay in Toronto.

There’s more Knicks news to pass along:

  • Despite a 4-18 start and six straight losing seasons, the Knicks’ front office job is still viewed as appealing around the league, Begley adds in the same story. The team has drafted well under general manager Scott Perry and has held on to its first-round picks. The Knicks also retained cap flexibility by signing seven players to short-term contracts this summer after failing to land their top targets in free agency.
  • A few players got to say goodbye to Fizdale before he left the team, Taj Gibson tells Begley (Twitter link). Gibson said Fizdale was emotional during the departure, adding, “Guys loved him.”
  • Mark Jackson, a former Knicks guard and ex-head coach of the Warriors, is a 5-1 favorite to be the next head coach, relays Adam Zagoria for Forbes. The oddsmakers at BetOnline.ag have Kenny Smith second at 6-1 and Italian coach Ettore Messina at 7-1. Next in line are three college coaches, Michigan’s Juwan Howard, Vanderbilt’s Jerry Stackhouse and Villanova’s Jay Wright.
  • Interim coach Mike Miller thanked Fizdale and the Knicks organization during today’s pre-game press conference (video link from Vorkunov). Neither Mills nor Perry has addressed the media since the firing became official, and nobody from management has commented apart from an unattributed statement that was released Friday.
  • Former NBA player Keith Bogans has been named to Miller’s staff, the Knicks announced on Twitter.

Knicks Notes: Fizdale Fallout, Potential Long-Term Replacements

The Knicks fired David Fizdale earlier today while also relieving Keith Smart of his duties as assistant coach. The move comes after a 4-18 start, which ties a record for worst in franchise history.

While Fizdale repeatedly told reporters that he had owner James Dolan’s backing, Jabari Young of CNBC.com hears from an agent who represents coaches around the league that the firing was “inevitable.” Assistant coach Mike Miller will now take over as the interim head coach with 60 games to go in the season.

Former Warriors coach and Knicks guard Mark Jackson has been linked to the team as a long-term candidate for the role (any major hire is likely to come in the offseason) and Young reports that Spurs assistant Becky Hammon would be interested in the job should the team be willing to offer her a long-term deal. Young mentions four or five years as the necessary length of the contract.

Young also mentions former Coach of the Year (2007) Sam Mitchell as a good candidate for the short-term, as Mitchell has a reputation for getting top effort out of players.

Here’s more on the Knicks:

  • Jeff Van Gundy, Jason Kidd, and Tyronn Lue are among the former NBA coaches that Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic names as options for the Knicks. Vorkunov also lists several potential candidates without former head coaching experience, such as Jarron Collins, Stephen Silas, and Ettore Messina.
  • The firing of Fizdale won’t clean up the Knicks’ issues, Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today explains. Zillgitt believes that the front office should shoulder the blame for putting together this roster and simply expecting Fizdale to produce results with it.
  • Mike Vaccaro of the New York Post argues that the Knicks should fire team president Steve Mills and GM Scott Perry. The regime put together a plan of signing big-name free agents and failed to deliver.

Clippers Hire Tyronn Lue As Top Assistant On Doc Rivers’ Staff

The Clippers and Tyronn Lue have agreed on a deal that will make the coach Doc Rivers‘ lead assistant, Shams Charania of The Athletic reports. It was recently reported that the team was closing in on a deal with Lue.

Lue was the frontrunner for the Lakers head coaching gig just months ago. Contract talks between Lue and the Lakers reportedly broke down, and the club ultimately hired Frank Vogel to replace Luke Walton.

Lue previously coached on Rivers’ staff, serving as an assistant during stints with the Celtics and Clippers before he made his way to Cleveland, where he won a title as a head coach.

A report in May indicated that the Pelicans and Rockets had expressed interest in hiring Lue as an assistant and that he had turned down offers to join NBA coaching staffs since being let go by the Cavs last fall.

Lue has a record of 128-83 as a head coach with all of his experience coming during LeBron James‘ second era in Cleveland. Now, Lue and James will again share a workplace, albeit in much different circumstances as the two Los Angeles gear up to compete against each other in the Western Conference.

Clippers Close To Hiring Tyronn Lue As Rivers’ Top Assistant

The Clippers are close to bringing aboard Tyronn Lue as the top assistant coach on Doc Rivers‘ staff, reports Marc Stein of The New York Times (Twitter links). Assuming the two sides finalize a deal, Lue would likely be named the team’s associate head coach, Stein adds.

If Lue officially joins the Clippers, it would be a fascinating turn of events, since he was viewed as the frontrunner for the Lakers’ head coaching job less than four months ago. Contract talks between Lue and the Lakers reportedly broke down, and the club ultimately hired Frank Vogel to replace Luke Walton. Now, Lue appears on the verge of joining Los Angeles’ other team under his old friend Rivers.

Lue’s coaching career began in 2011 when he served as a Celtics assistant on Rivers’ staff. He followed Rivers to Los Angeles in 2013, spending a year with the Clippers before being hired by the Cavaliers in 2014.

A report in May indicated that the Pelicans and Rockets had expressed interest in hiring Lue as an assistant and that he had turned down offers to join NBA coaching staffs since being let go by the Cavs last fall. However, it appears the opportunity to work with Rivers again for one of the NBA’s top title contenders may lure Lue back to the sidelines.

Stein’s Latest: Capela, Gordon, Tucker, Lakers, Wolves, Grizzlies

When ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported last week that the Rockets were making virtually everyone on their roster besides James Harden available in trade talks, it was presented as general manager Daryl Morey doing his due diligence and being open to all options. Morey and owner Tilman Fertitta later praised Houston’s starting five and predicted it would return intact next season.

In his latest newsletter, however, Marc Stein of The New York Times paints a different picture. According to Stein, the Rockets are “actively” exploring the trade market for possible deals involving Clint Capela, Eric Gordon, and/or P.J. Tucker. One source with knowledge of the club’s thinking tells Stein that Houston is operating as if at least one of those three players won’t be on the roster next season.

Gordon, who has one year and $14MM left on his contract, and Tucker, who has about $16MM+ left over two years, may be easier for the Rockets to move than Capela, since they’re veterans capable of fitting in anywhere and wouldn’t require a long-term salary commitment. However, Capela’s four years of team control may appeal to a club that’s looking for an answer at center and hoping to avoid overpaying a free agent.

As we wait to see what Morey has up his sleeve, here are a few more minor items from Stein:

  • While the amount of years and money the Lakers were willing to offer Tyronn Lue contributed to negotiations breaking down, a disagreement over his staff was also a factor. According to Stein, general manager Rob Pelinka and advisor Kurt Rambis wanted to be able to select Lue’s assistants.
  • The Timberwolves are taking a similar approach under new head of basketball operations Gersson Rosas, according to Stein, who notes that Rosas brought back Ryan Saunders but dismissed his entire staff. Stein writes that Saunders wanted to hire Sidney Lowe as his lead assistant, but was rebuffed by management.
  • The Grizzlies, the only team still seeking a new head coach, are believed to be considering a new bench model. Memphis wants to have at least one of its assistant coaches hold a dual title that includes some personnel responsibilities, says Stein.

Rockets Notes: Gordon, Lue, MLE, Offseason

A pair of reports on Wednesday indicated that the Rockets are open to the idea of shaking up their roster this summer. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that general manager Daryl Morey is aggressively scouring the market for potential upgrades and is open to trading just about any draft pick or any player not named James Harden, including Chris Paul. Marc Stein of The New York Times followed up on that story by adding that Houston has specifically gauged Clint Capela‘s trade value.

Today, Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders continues to flesh out the story, tweeting that Eric Gordon is also among the players being made available by the Rockets in trade talks. According to Kyler, Houston is looking to “change up the locker room” and may be looking to add a lottery pick. Kyler has heard teams like the Celtics, Hornets, Magic, and Mavericks linked to the Rockets as potential trade partners.

Assuming the Warriors win another title, the Rockets could convince themselves for the second straight year that they were the NBA’s second-best team, and there’s no telling whether Golden State will bring back the same roster next year. That’s an argument in favor of not doing anything too drastic this offseason. Still, Morey has long been one of the NBA’s most aggressive executives when it comes to finding upgrades and avoiding complacency, so if he can find a way to extend the Rockets’ window of contention, the team has to seriously consider it.

Here’s more out of Houston:

  • In his latest mailbag, Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle takes an extended look at the shakeup on the Rockets’ coaching staff, writing that the changes stemmed from the fact that Morey “decided the Rockets could do better.” Within that same article, Feigen pushes back on a report linking Tyronn Lue to Houston. According to Feigen, the Rockets had interest in Lue last October, but didn’t make him an offer then and haven’t shown any interest in him since the season ended.
  • According to Feigen, the Rockets are preparing as if they’ll have the taxpayer mid-level exception available, rather than the full mid-level exception. Unlike last season, when Houston spread its MLE around among multiple players, the club would rather try to use its 2019/20 MLE on a player who could be considered a “significant addition,” filling out the rest of the roster with minimum-salary players or trade acquisitions, Feigen writes.
  • In case it wasn’t clear from Wednesday’s reports – or from owner Tilman Fertitta‘s previous comments about doing anything possible to improve the team – Feigen cites a source with knowledge of the Rockets’ plans who suggested this week that the club is open to making major changes to upgrade its roster. “‘Run it back’ is not what (the Rockets) do,” that source said.
  • Fertitta reiterated that message this week as well, per Feigen: “Wherever we can improve coaching or players, let’s do it. But let’s not change to change. We have to know we can improve in that position whether it’s a coach, film guy or a trainer.”