Tyronn Lue, the coach of Cleveland’s 2016 NBA championship team before being fired in October, has begun an informal role with the Clippers, coach Doc Rivers told the Los Angeles Times on Monday.
A former assistant under Rivers in Boston and Los Angeles, Lue will spend time around the team and has been asked to provide his thoughts on the team’s play to Rivers over the coming weeks and months.
“He just watches and if he sees something, he’s just part of the group,” Rivers told the Times before his team’s tipoff at Staples Center against Portland. Lue began the role Sunday and will be around the organization more often in the coming the weeks and months, Rivers said.
Rivers has brought in outsiders with fresh eyes to evaluate his teams before. Two examples are Flip Saunders, the late former Minnesota coach and executive, and former Celtics forward Kevin Garnett.
Lue brings title-winning experience and a coach friendship with Rivers to the role. Lue played for Rivers in Orlando, broke into coaching under him with the Celtics in 2011 and worked as an assistant on Rivers’ staffs in Boston and Los Angeles. Lue has said the foundation of his coaching career was learned by working with Rivers.
The Cavaliers appeared in three consecutive NBA Finals under Lue, who was 128-83 in Cleveland. He was fired in late October after the team began 0-6 and Rivers condemned the move soon after, saying it “makes no sense, it’s the ugly part of our game.”
Rivers has said that Cleveland’s championship, won with Lue on the sideline, is one of the most satisfying moments of his career because of his connection to Lue.
“I probably am not prouder of anybody that’s played for me and been a coach under me than Ty Lue,” he said in October.
Lou Williams might return Thursday
Reserve guard Lou Williams could return from a hamstring injury as early as Thursday, a source not authorized to speak publicly about the matter said Monday, and his return could be the first of three additions to the Clippers’ rotation in the coming weeks.
Rookie guard Jerome Robinson, who is dealing with a foot injury, could return by Christmas. Though Rivers said that forward Luc Mbah a Moute (left knee soreness) could be back within the next week, the source indicated a timetable for the forward’s return isn’t set.
“Really good to see them both, really good to see Luc,” Rivers said. “Lou is the closest to coming back but they’re both close. Luc is finally, you can say he’s close to coming back and getting on the floor and we can definitely use him.”
Mbah a Moute “looked good moving up and down and hopefully those guys are healthy moving forward,” backup guard Ty Wallace said. “Lou looked good today.”
Johnathan Motley gets award
Forward Johnathan Motley, who is on a two-way contract with the Clippers and their G League affiliate, was named the G League player of the week Monday after averaging 34.5 points, 13.0 rebounds and 4.0 assists in two games last week.
Rivers has had plenty to focus on with his own team; the Clippers entered Monday losers of six of their last eight games. But he said he’s kept tabs on the progress of Motley, who spent a brief amount of time around the NBA team last month during a victory in Sacramento before being assigned to the Agua Caliente Clippers of Ontario again.
“Oh I pay attention. I get the stats, I’ll watch a game here and there but I love what he’s doing,” Rivers said. “He’s really playing well, so he’s a pro. We said that when he went down but he’ll be in this league, for sure.”