Ty Lue has been exceedingly joyous in all of his press appearances since he was hired as the new head coach of the LA Clippers.
In an interview with Rachel Nichols on ESPN’s The Jump, Lue revealed one of the reasons why he’s such in a good mood. Not only did he get the best job on the market, but he expects to compete for a title for several years because he doesn’t think Kawhi Leonard and Paul George — who can both be free agents after this upcoming season — are going anywhere:
“I think Kawhi and PG are going to stay for a long time. I think in their situation and where they want to be, it’s here with the Clippers. We just gotta make it a great environment, and we have to win.”
Now it falls on Lue and the Clippers management to create that winning environment. During that interview with Nichols, Lue credited Steve Ballmer for giving the team all the resources it needs to succeed as well as the rest of the front office for putting a roster together that can compete.
Lue’s current task is building a coaching staff that can maximize the talents of these players. The Clippers were previously rumored to be bringing in broadcaster Chauncey Billups, who happens to be Lue’s best friend, as his lead assistant. Lue couldn’t confirm Billups’ inclusion on the staff, but he did say that he is working hard to make that happen.
“I’m trying, you know it’s a process. I would love to have Chauncey over here, I think he’s a great basketball mind, a perennial All-Star, a guy that commands respect when he walks into the room. I think having that voice and guys being able to see that every day, he’s a Finals MVP, he won a championship. It’s still a process, we have to go through it, so I’m not sure, but I do want him and we’ll see what happens.”
The Clippers have also been linked to Larry Drew, who was an assistant on Lue’s staff in Cleveland and another one of his close friends in the league. On Thursday, Marc Stein of the New York Times reported that the team is targeting two more high-profile assistant coaches: Kenny Atkinson and Dan Craig.
Heat assistant coach Dan Craig, who interviewed for Indiana's head-coaching vacancy, is said to be another top target for Lue's staff with the Clippers, which is also expected to include another former NBA coach head coach in Larry Drew— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) October 23, 2020
Atkinson was the head coach in Brooklyn for almost four seasons. He was lauded for his player development with the Nets, and as an assistant with Atlanta and New York before that. Success stories such Caris LeVert, D’Angelo Russell, Joe Harris, and Spencer Dinwiddie stand out from Atkinson’s Brooklyn tenure. The Clippers’ interest in Atkinson comes as a logical follow-up to the team’s focus on internal development during Lue’s introductory press conference.
Craig fits a similar mold. He has been part of the Miami Heat organization since 2003, working his way from the video room to player development and even serving as head coach of the vaunted Heat G League franchise, the Sioux Falls SkyForce. Some players of note that Craig worked with in that stint were Josh Richardson, Rodney McGruder, and Larry Drew II. As Stein reports, Craig interviewed for a head coaching position this offseason, so he is highly-regarded within NBA circles.
The success of the Clippers will ultimately come down to the performance of the players on the court, but Lue appears to be doing everything within his power to optimize those outcomes. Even if he has faith that Leonard and George will be Clippers for the long haul, it’s Lue’s job to make sure that their time here is well spent.