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Tyronn Lue close to adding three assistants to Clippers’ staff

Kenny Atkinson looks on from the Brooklyn Nets bench.
Former Brooklyn Nets coach Kenny Atkinson soon could become an assistant with the Clippers.
(Mike Stobe / Getty Images)

Tyronn Lue’s first coaching staff with the Clippers is taking shape, with the team nearing agreements with several key assistants.

Miami assistant Dan Craig, former Brooklyn coach Kenny Atkinson and Larry Drew, a former head coach who most recently served on Lue’s Cleveland staff, have committed to join the Clippers as assistants, though their hiring is not yet official because deals have not been finalized, according to a source with knowledge of the matter.

Additionally Chauncey Billups, a former All-Star guard and close friend of Lue who most recently worked as a television analyst for the team, is considering whether to join.

Lue will use defensive and offensive coordinators and values coaches with player-development backgrounds but said versatility is most important.

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“Being able to do multiple things, not just, you know, one thing or focus in on defense and that’s all they can do or focus in on offense and there’s all they can do,” Lue said last week, during his introduction as coach. “I want to make sure that picking the coaching staff, we have guys that can do multiple things, because I want to build the best staff. I want to be the best coach. I want to see our coaches move on to be head coaches in the future.”

Atkinson was expected to be one of the most sought-after coaches in the market after his firing in March by Brooklyn, where he was praised for developing the Nets into overachievers during his four seasons. The Nets were 20-62 during his first season in 2016-17, but 42-40 within two years.

Tyronn Lue has a ‘Midas touch’ with people, a likability that has won over high school friends and NBA power brokers. Honesty is the source of his magnetism.

As with Atkinson and Drew, Craig was a college guard before beginning his coaching career. He broke into the NBA by joining Miami’s video department in 2003 and has stayed with the Heat since, ultimately rising to become one of coach Erik Spoelstra’s top lieutenants.

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Craig had drawn interest from Indiana during the Pacers’ coaching search — as had Billups — before the job ultimately went to Toronto assistant Nate Bjorkgren.

Drew and Lue have known each other for more than two decades since Lue joined the Lakers, where Drew was an assistant, after a draft-night trade in 1998. Both also have deep ties in Missouri, where both attended high school in the Kansas City area.

New Clippers coach Tyronn Lue has never shied away from acknowledging Doc Rivers’ mentorship but acknowleges his style is influenced by other coaches as well.


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