Former Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue in talks to join Clippers coaching staff

Tyronn Lue looks on during a game between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Denver Nuggets in March 2018.
(Associated Press)

Tyronn Lue, who coached Cleveland to the 2016 NBA championship, is engaged in talks with the Clippers about joining coach Doc Rivers’ staff as a top assistant, a hiring that is considered likely to happen, a person with knowledge of the discussions confirmed to The Times.

Such a move would reunite Lue with Rivers, a close friend who jump-started Lue’s coaching career, and Lue with a Clippers team he observed often last season (following his firing in Cleveland) as part of an informal role in which he provided observations to Rivers.

Hiring Lue also would require a reorganization of the structure of the Clippers’ coaching staff. League rules permit a maximum of three assistant coaches to sit in the bench’s front row, next to the head coach. Other coaches sit one row behind. The Clippers were prepared to enter next season with assistants Rex Kalamian, the team’s defensive coordinator, Sam Cassell and John Welch sitting in the front row next to Rivers. Whose place Lue would take, should his hiring be finalized as expected, remains undetermined. Kalamian and Cassell were front-row assistants last season.


The Clippers will be an NBA fixture this season, playing the Lakers on opening night and helping christen the Golden State Warriors’ new Chase Center.

Aug. 12, 2019

One of Lue’s 11 NBA seasons as a guard was spent playing for Rivers in Orlando, and he broke into coaching in 2011 with Boston while Rivers was the Celtics’ head coach. Lue worked as a Clippers assistant during the 2013-14 season before joining Cleveland where, following a promotion, he coached the Cavaliers to three consecutive NBA finals appearances and the franchise’s first NBA title, in 2016.

Cleveland fired Lue last season after an 0-6 start, and Rivers defended Lue at the time, calling the decision “awful.” Lue has a 128-83 career record as a head coach. By December, the Clippers added Lue via an informal role that involved Lue, 42, spending time around the Clippers and providing his thoughts to Rivers.

Lue has come close to coaching in Los Angeles this season before. He met with the Lakers in April about becoming the team’s head coach before undergoing a second interview. Talks broke down in early May, and the Lakers eventually hired Frank Vogel as head coach.

Times staff writer Broderick Turner contributed to this report.