The Cleveland Cavaliers continued to make headway in improving their on-court product on Monday night when they officially hired former NBA guard and L.A. Clippers assistant Tyronn Lue as their top assistant coach. According to Brian Windhorst, Lue will become one of the highest paid assistants in the league at $1 million a year, and will likely be focusing his energies on Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters going forward.
Lue was an outstanding high school player at Raytown High, leading them to a 27-1 record his senior year. He averaged 24 points, eight assists and six steals a game, before opting to attend Nebraska.
Lue was a first round draft pick of the Denver Nuggets in 1998, and spent 11 seasons playing for seven different teams. In his best season, He averaged 11.4 points a game, with 3 1/2 assists. Lue won two NBA titles in 2000 and 2001.
Lue retired after the 2008-2009 season, and was hired just prior to the 2009-2010 season as the Celtics Director of Basketball Development for head coach Doc Rivers. He ultimately rose to one of Rivers’ most trusted assistants, and followed him to L.A. prior to the 2013 seasons.
He headed into this offseason as one of the up-and-coming potential head coaches, having mentored under Doc Rivers for the past five seasons, while building solid relationships with most of the players in both Boston and L.A.
It’s believed that the Cavs are paying Lue for his potential benefits to the mercurial Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters.
In 2006, Rajon Rondo was drafted by the Celtics, and while he showed improvement in each of his first three seasons, he didn’t make his first All-Star gme until the 2009-2010 season…Lue’s first with the club. While I’m not, by any stretch, saying that Rondo was 100% built by a relationship with Lue, there certainly was some sort of correlation, as Rondo went on to make the next four All-Star games while Lue was building his credentials as a top assistant.
He worked extensively with Chris Paul this past season, and Paul arguably had his best season.
Again, Paul was established, and had been in the all-star game the previous six seasons, but Paul saw a 2 1/2 point jump in scoring, and increased his assists per game by one per game.
Can Lue have the same effect with the young Cavaliers guards?
Dan Gilbert is betting $1 million dollars that he can.
Chris Broussard has also speculated that Tyronn Lue is a coach that LeBron James would support moving forward. While David Blatt was hired as the head coach, Lue will likely help transition Blatt to the NBA game, give him a voice with the younger players who have no clue who David Blatt is, and perhaps even bridge a relationship with potential free agents who may lend more credence with Lue than with Blatt…although that’s all just speculation on my part.
It’s also Chris Broussard we’re talking about here.
At the end of the day, the Cavaliers seem to have an intriguing bench as we head toward the 2014 NBA draft on June 26th…and free agency beyond.
Dan Gilbert continues to try and build credibility for a front office that has been in disarray since the 2010 season, and perhaps even before. So far…so good.
Gilbert took off the interim tag for David Griffin, who is one of the most respected young executives in the NBA. He followed that up by hiring David Blatt, who, like Griffin, is highly thought off (and has been so for years) by NBA front offices for his ability to create winning teams from the ground up.
In Tyronn Lue, the reshaping continues, and money clearly knows no bounds.
On Thursday night, the Cavs will take their next step, and seemingly have a solid team in place going forward. While Lue may be a short-timer in Cleveland, he could set up Irving and Waiters for years to come.