New Clippers coach Tyronn Lue welcomes the pressure – Press Enterprise

New Clippers coach Tyronn Lue welcomes the pressure – Press Enterprise

Former Clippers head coach Doc Rivers might have introduced Tyronn Lue to coaching and taught him much in Lue’s time on Rivers’ staffs in Boston and L.A., but as much as Lue appreciates all of Rivers’ input and help, the new Clippers head coach made it clear Wednesday he’s taking cues from other coaches too.

“I learned a lot from Doc, but I’ve also learned a lot from a lot of other coaches around the league,” said Lue, who last week agreed to a reported five-year deal to coach the team with win-a-championship-now aspirations, a goal that was thwarted last season when the Clippers blew a 3-1 series lead against the Denver Nuggets in the second round of the Western Conference playoffs.

A couple of weeks after the season’s disappointing conclusion, the Clippers parted ways with Rivers, their coach of seven seasons. He signed on three days later with Philadelphia, and his former team continued searching for his replacement for another two weeks, eventually circling back to where they started, with Lue.

Twice a Clippers assistant, Lue’s nine seasons on NBA coaching staffs includes having led the Cleveland Cavaliers to three consecutive NBA Finals, including the team’s first championship in 2016.

Seated in the media room Wednesday at the Clippers’ practice facility in Playa Vista, Lue expressed a blend of humility – “it feels good to be wanted,” he said – and confidence during a half-hour introductory Zoom session with reporters off site.

“I want to be one of the greatest coaches,” Lue said. “In order to be great, you have to win. So to me, when you start talking about pressure and all that it means, it just means that you’re in position to win a championship.”

Steve Ballmer, the team’s governor, and Lawrence Frank, its president of basketball operations, also joined the remote session, with Ballmer unequivocal in his desire to see his team figure it out fast: “I think it’s probably fair to say my personality is all about winning and we didn’t get the job done that we expected to get done at the end of the season.”

“I tell you,” Ballmer added. “Ty’s my kind of guy, he wants to move, move, move! Learn new things, absorb, think new thoughts – which I think is essential to be better, to grow.” Ballmer also noted that Lue is “a guy I have come to understand holds himself and others accountable, which is a key part of being good in the sports business.”

And Lue, speaking Ballmer’s language, described himself as a lifelong learner and as something of a proud conceptual thief. The 43-year-old Missourian noted he’ll borrow ideas from Miami coach Erik Spoelstra, Boston’s Brad Stevens, San Antonio’s Gregg Popovich, new New Orleans coach Stan Van Gundy as well 11-time NBA championship coach Phil Jackson – and others.

“Watching (Toronto’s) Nick Nurse last year, thinking outside the box, being able to play box-and-one and triangle-and-two and bring something new to the NBA,” said Lue, who said he wants the Clippers to pick up the pace and do a better job moving the ball next season, whenever it begins.

“We need to play faster,” Lue said. “Getting easy baskets is one thing, but sharing the basketball, playing through our best players and then also making the other players on our team better, changing sides of the floor with the ball, I think is very important for this team. Also getting our players in the best position, in the best spots on the floor that they’re comfortable in.”

Among the qualities the Clippers prized, Frank said they like that Lue is “a thinker, a connector, a dynamic leader,” and also that he’s shown the ability to be nimble in the moment; Rivers often was criticized for not being flexible enough.

Said Frank of Lue’s skill set: “It comes across in the way he sees the game, from every angle, and the way he relays his vision, often on the fly, in the action.”

And then there’s the fact Lue has proved he can steer a team with great expectations, great talent but not-so-great cohesion to what Frank described as “the peak of the NBA.” Lue took over for David Blatt in Cleveland 41 games into the 2015-16 season, and, as a rookie head coach, steered the LeBron James-led Cavs to the title. The Cavs reached the NBA Finals each of the next two seasons too, but Lue was fired after an 0-6 start in the 2018-19 season.

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