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Clippings: Are the Clippers playing a dangerous game with Ty Lue?

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The Clippers and Lue may not be on the same timeline.

Cleveland Cavaliers v Houston Rockets Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images

When the Clippers hired Tyronn Lue last offseason as Doc Rivers’ lead assistant, all parties involved had the understanding that this was a short-lived marriage of convenience. Lue wanted to get back on an NBA bench, but he also wanted to be a head coach again. Perhaps helping shepherd the Clippers to their best season in franchise history would remind the rest of the league of his championship credentials.

Even though the Clippers didn’t reach those heights, Lue’s market is still hot. ESPN reports that Lue’s meeting with Houston went well and that he could be a frontrunner to coach James Harden and Russell Westbrook next season. This follows reporting that Lue is also a finalist for the Pelicans job.

Interestingly, the Rockets were interested in Doc Rivers before he signed with Philadelphia, and Mike D’Antoni was near a deal with the 76ers before Rivers became available. Now, Lue could take D’Antoni’s former job. It all seems to be a bit incestuous and a sign that the NBA should stop rehiring the same coaches. That’s a topic for another day.

The interesting detail in the ESPN story is that the Rockets would like to make Lue an offer before the Clippers conclude their search. The goal is to get to their preferred candidate early, but applying pressure on a conference rival would be a worthwhile side bonus. The Clippers haven’t demonstrated any haste in their search. However, just because they are comfortable with this timeline, it doesn’t mean that Lue is.

Reporting still indicates that Lue is a “prominent part” of the Clippers’ interview process, but other teams may have Lue has a higher priority in their searches. It will be interesting to see if any of those front offices can speed the Clippers up, or if their delay requires them to sacrifice Lue. He wasn’t hired as the head coach in waiting in 2019; maybe the Clippers still view him that way.

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