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The last time we saw the Los Angeles Clippers, they were walking off the court after losing a third consecutive game in the Western Conference semifinals to the Denver Nuggets. A series that saw a Clippers team led by Head Coach Glenn “Doc” Rivers lost another series after having a substantial lead. A Rivers led team never got the conference finals in each of his seven seasons, even though they won 48 or more regular season games six times.
It is not like Rivers did not have talent on any of his previously coached teams. His teams over the years included All-Stars Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan, Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. He also had three different Sixth Man Of The Year Award winners and multiple key contributors on his rosters but never could put the right group together to get the Clippers to their first conference finals in franchise history.
But after seven years and a losing record in his playoff coaching career in Los Angeles, Rivers and Clippers owner Steve Ballmer decided that a change was needed. Rivers went to Philadelphia to take over the Sixers and Ballmer decided the man to lead his team was sitting right next to Rivers.
Enter Tyronn Lue, Rivers’ former lead assistant Head Coach in Los Angeles as the new man in charge. So, here are three reasons why this was a great hire by the Clippers:
1 – He Has A Championship Pedigree
Lue won a NBA Championship and three Eastern Conference Championships in his time as Head Coach for the Cleveland Cavaliers. So the Clippers go from one championship winning head coach to another. He’s one of five head coaches in NBA history to have a 60% winning percentage in the regular season, playoffs and has won an NBA championship.
Regardless of the situation, winning is winning and for a team whose previous history has not included winning in the big moments, this is critical. His teams have won 12 or more playoff games in each season he’s coached in the playoffs.
2- Knowing How To Deal With Stars
Lue is no stranger to working with elite players. The current Clippers have Leonard and George, but Lue coached LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love in Cleveland. So this job is no different than what he has coached before in regards to top-tier talent.
This job might be even harder than the task in Cleveland. With the reports of Leonard living in San Diego and being late for team flights, managing his load management, having team chemistry concerns and with Leonard and George potentially in their final year of their contracts, this could be a headache for any head coach.
Being an assistant coach and dealing with it is one thing. But when you are head coach and there is an expectation to win a championship, it’s a much taller task that Lue may be better suited to than Rivers was.
3 – He Was The Best Candidate On The Market
Even with some coaching positions (Chicago, New York and Brooklyn) already filled when Rivers was let go, no head coach available was a better fit than Lue. Nothing against Tom Thibodeau, Steve Nash or Billy Donovan but none of those guys would have been able to get the best out of this roster.
Mike D’Antoni would have needed a change in personnel to make the Clippers work in his system, Nate McMillian has won one playoff series and that was 15 years ago. Even the Van Gundy brothers would not have been a good fit, given how they would have to deal with Leonard and his load management.
Lue had plenty of places interested in his coaching services but decided on staying with a team that he knows very well and pieces that will work in his philosophy. Now can the front office bring everyone back for one more chance to win the franchise’s first NBA championship?