Tyronn Lue’s Clippers coaching staff continues coming together – Press Enterprise

The NBA coaching carousel is circling at full speed, and the Clippers reportedly have had several coaches hopping aboard and stepping off in the days following Tyronn Lue’s official promotion to head coach Oct. 20.

In his introductory virtual news conference, Lue said his aim was to round out his coaching staff with well-rounded colleagues, fellow coaches who aren’t limited to their areas of expertise — and, if things work out as he hopes, who’ll eventually leave to coach against him.

What that looks like so far: A bench comprised of colleagues who’ve either been head coaches or who’ve been considered recently for such a role. Former Brooklyn coach Kenny Atkinson, former Cleveland coach Larry Drew and top Miami assistant Dan Craig all reportedly are expected to join Lue’s Clippers staff.

Also, first-time coach Chauncey Billups, a former All-Star point guard with highly regarded basketball acumen, is expected to join Lue on the sideline.

That’s who’s in, so far. Heading off: Sam Cassell, the 11-year NBA assistant who spent the past six seasons coaching alongside Doc Rivers, will reunite with the former Clippers coach in Philadelphia, per the Philadelphia Inquirer. Former Agua Caliente Clippers coach Brian Adams also will join Rivers’ staff in Philadelphia, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported Friday.

In L.A., the Clippers will enter next season — the length and start of which still are being negotiated by the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association — with a focus on in-house player development, they said.

“A lot of times when people talk about player development, they focus on younger players, which is critical but also the best teachers and best coaches get the best out of your best players,” said Lawrence Frank, the Clippers’ president of basketball operations, during Lue’s introductory news conference.

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“We’ve talked a lot and we’ve looked internally in terms of how we can get better, and we think we can make great gains organizationally in the player-development phase … player development is kind of like a catch-all phrase. There’s skill development by the coaches. There’s development by the performance of medical staff. There’s developmental performance, nutrition.

“… We’re very, very hopeful of our young guys getting better, but also at the same time is making sure we have a plan for every single player and making sure we’re giving them enough feedback throughout the process to see the gains they are making.”

Having traded away all but their second-round pick in each of the next two years, and with only a taxpayer mid-level exception (expected to be approximately $6 million annually) or the non-taxpayer mid-level exception (anticipated to be between $9 to $10 million annually) available to them, Clippers owner Steve Ballmer acknowledged that there’s work to do in the margins of the roster. And he echoed Frank’s assessment on the importance of in-house development.

“We are just going to have to do better and better with all aspects of player development,” Ballmer said on that Zoom call.

With that in mind, the Clippers will incorporate Atkinson — a 53-year-old native of Huntington, New York — who in 2018-19 led a young Nets team to its first playoff appearance since 2015.

He worked as an assistant coach for seven years before being hired in 2016 as the Nets’ head coach, where in three-plus seasons he was 118-190, as his teams made significant improvement after the Nets went 20-62 in his first season at the helm. Last season, an injury-plagued Brooklyn squad was 28-34 when he was excused in March.

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The New York Times’ Marc Stein reported his “strong” candidacy for a position on Lue’s bench.

Drew is a good friend of Lue’s who played in the NBA for 10 years, including two seasons with the Clippers, after which he began his coaching career as a Lakers assistant in 1992.

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