Coach Tyronn Lue is ready to take a step toward rejoining the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Lue, who took a medical leave two weeks ago because of a recurring health issue, attended Friday night's game against New Orleans as an observer. Lue will not sit on the bench, but he will be inside Quicken Loans Arena. A team spokesman said Lue likely will watch the game from his office.
Lue said he experienced chest pains and “other troubling symptoms” when the 40-year-old announced he was stepping away from the team on March 19 to address his health. He missed two games earlier in the year with illness.
Lue, who took over the Cavaliers midway through the 2016 season and guided them to an NBA championship, last coached in a game on March 17 in Chicago. But after the first half, he remained in the locker room for the rest of the game.
Associate head coach Larry Drew has been coaching the Cavaliers in Lue's absence and led them to a 5-1 record.
Drew had lunch with Lue on Thursday and said the coach's condition — and mood — have improved.
“Ty was Ty,” said Drew, who reported Lue at a healthy salad. “But it was good to see that he's moving in the right direction and it looks like he'll be back to join us hopefully real soon.”
It's still not clear when Lue will return to the team in a full capacity, but he could be back during Cleveland’s four-game homestand that runs through Thursday.
Lue's illness is just one of many setbacks this season for the Cavaliers, who thanks to LeBron James, have managed to stay playoff-bound despite numerous injuries and a roster-flipping makeover at the trade deadline.
Cleveland has won six of seven heading into Friday's matchup with the Pelicans.
Chicago Bulls center Robin Lopez has been fined $25,000 for yelling at officials and failing to leave the court quickly enough after he was ejected from a 103-92 loss to the Miami Heat.
Lopez picked up a pair of technicals with 8:43 remaining, and he gestured and pointed as he yelled at officials while walking off the floor.
“I was emotional. I had a life reaction,” Lopez said after the game. “I felt I was never given the time to cool down. I was making my way towards the bench and I was hit with that second T right away. I was a little caught off guard.
“It's not something I'm particularly ashamed of. I play with passion. If I do something I feel is wrong, I apologize for it. If not, I'll stand by it.”