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What Losing Tyronn Lue Means For The Cleveland Cavaliers

Even with LeBron 'playing the best basketball of his life,' CLE's road to the playoffs only gets harder from here without Lue
by John Paulo Aguilera | Mar 20, 2018
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Cleveland Cavaliers head coach Tyronn Lue made headlines Monday night following his announcement about having to "step back from coaching" due to health issues.

"I have had chest pains and other troubling symptoms, compounded by a loss of sleep, throughout the year. Despite a battery of tests, there have been no conclusions as to what the exact issue is," Lue said in a statement.

The ex-NBA player, two-time champion, and Allen Iverson's official nemesis has tried to remain on the sidelines amid concerns over him being fit to work. Lue said he will dedicate the leave of absence to the "prescribed routine and medication," so he could return and steer the team back to the Promised Land. In the meantime, assistant coach Larry Drew takes over for him.

As supportive as the Cavs management, medical team, and organization have been to the second-year mentor, basketball critics took the opportunity to take a jab at the ailing tactician. There were still people who sent out their "Get well soon" cards to Lue, but the rest of the NBA following doubted his reason for taking a break and trolled him about LeBron James being the real coach.

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The unfortunate development couldn't have come at a worse time. Just recently, him and James were seen engaged in what looks like a shouting match on the Cleveland bench. Even before that, the Eastern Conference third seed was mired in a slump since winning its first three games after the roster shakeup at the trade deadline.

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The Cavaliers almost went four wins and six losses in their last 10 games, if not for Kevin Love's triumphant comeback (18 points, seven rebounds, four assists, two blocks) and another triple-double from the King (40-12-10) against Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks, 124-117, earlier today.

The image and vibe was very different from the heated exchange when James was asked about losing Lue for the time being:

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Say what you want about Lue, but this was the same man who hid his players' cash in the ceiling as motivation during Game 5 of the 2016 NBA Finals, then called out the world's best player in the deciding Game 7. The Cavs eventually made history at the expense of the Golden State Warriors, which also gave the rookie coach the rare distinction of capturing the title in his first year.

He was handed the unenviable task of controlling a living legend (Just ask Erik Spoelstra) that redefined the concept of a player being a "coach's extension on the court." And if coaching someone like LeBron and the vicious media scrutiny that comes with it have indeed taken its toll on Ty, the more the latter deserves respect considering that he has already three seasons at the helm, and a championship ring to show for—something that David Blatt failed to accomplish.


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It's highly unlikely for Cleveland (41-29) to chase the No. 2 Boston Celtics (47-23), with 12 games left in the schedule. The Indiana Pacers (41-30), Washington Wizards (40-30), and Philadelphia 76ers (39-30) are hot on their heels, which means that the Cavaliers can't afford any mistakes from this point forward. Even with LeBron admittedly and evidently "playing the best basketball of (his) life," their road to the playoffs only gets harder from here without Lue's steadying presence.

Boston's former Director of Basketball Development is said to have his way of connecting to his personnel, unlike his predecessor. Pair that with his relatively laid-back coaching style and what you get is the consummate players' coach. Larry Drew, despite the respectable postseason experience as mentor of the Atlanta Hawks, sure wishes he shared the same bond in hopes of filling the void left by Lue.

It's funny how everyone praised him for supposedly "taming the beast" that is James, but also immediately threw him under the bus when shit hit the fan.

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