Lakers will not hire Tyronn Lue as coach
After a week in which many believed the hiring of Tyronn Lue as coach of the Lakers was just a formality, their discussions disintegrated.
The Lakers are moving on from Lue and will continue their search for a coach, according to a person familiar with the Lakers’ thinking and a person close to Lue. The negotiation process left both sides feeling as if they were not a good fit.
Now the Lakers will consider three new names along with two people they interviewed for the position.
Former Indiana Pacers and Orlando Magic coach Frank Vogel, former Atlanta Hawks and New York Knicks coach Mike Woodson and former Memphis Grizzlies and Brooklyn Nets coach Lionel Hollins will be added to the Lakers’ pool of candidates. The team also will continue to consider Juwan Howard and Jason Kidd, both of whom were interviewed in April.
Lue and the Lakers began negotiating Friday, about a week and a half after Lue’s second interview with the franchise. Until then, Lue hadn’t heard from the Lakers and neither had Monty Williams, whom the Lakers interviewed twice. Williams accepted a five-year contract with the Phoenix Suns on Friday, and with him off the board, the Lakers began conversations with Lue, whom they had preferred during the process. He had endorsements from former Lakers coach Phil Jackson and from Magic Johnson, the team’s former president of basketball operations.
Talks stalled Wednesday over several issues and the Lakers determined that despite his coaching record and strong relationship with LeBron James, Lue was not a good fit for the organization long-term, the person familiar with the Lakers’ thinking said.
A person close to Lue said his agent told the Lakers on Tuesday that they planned to move on from pursuing the job. Still, negotiations continued into Wednesday and the person said there was reason to believe the Lakers ultimately would offer Lue a deal more to his liking. A Lakers source unequivocally denied that Lue’s representatives ever pulled out of the process. The team told Lue’s agent Wednesday that they were moving on, according to two people familiar with their discussions.
As the negotiations unfolded, there were numerous issues on which the Lakers and Lue did not agree, people who were not authorized to speak publicly said.
One of those issues was the makeup of the coaching staff. The Lakers suggested several names that weren’t to Lue’s liking. Although rumors persisted early in the process that candidates would be asked to put Kurt Rambis on the staff, the Lakers never asked Lue to give him a role as an assistant.
Another issue was the money and number of years being offered. The Lakers offered a three-year deal worth $18 million, but Lue wanted a five-year contract closer to what Luke Walton was offered, which was reportedly worth $25 million, when he was hired by the Lakers. As a coach who had won a championship, Lue was put off by the Lakers’ offer considering what they had offered Walton, a first-time coach. Lue declined the offer and the Lakers saw it as an opportunity to move on.
Lue had long been considered a front-runner for the job, which was vacated by Walton on April 12, because of his connections to James and the Lakers. He was the Cavaliers coach when the team, led by James, won Cleveland’s first professional sports championship in more than 50 years. He was a reserve point guard for the Lakers during two championship seasons.
As news spread that Lue was no longer a candidate for the Lakers’ coaching job, one person close to Lue, James and Walton reacted on Twitter.
Richard Jefferson played in college with Walton, in the NBA with James and for Lue. He tweeted: “I feel bad for my guys... which one?!? All of them, T-LUE, Bron and Luke!! This is what Luke was working with, this is what T-LUE didn’t want to get involved with and this is what Bron is dealing with.”
Follow Tania Ganguli on Twitter @taniaganguli
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