Tyrone Lue and Koby Altman
Six games into a season that most experts projected the Cleveland Cavaliers among the bottom teams in the Eastern Conference, Cavaliers general manager Koby Altman terminated head coach Tyron Lue.
Altman essentially cutting his teeth in the front office with the Cavs, canning one of the most respected coaches in the National Basketball Association, and one that so happens to be the only coach to lead your franchise to an NBA title is stunning.
Lue was informed on Sunday Oct. 28th following the Cavs sixth consecutive loss to begin the season.
What made the decision so surprising is that Lue is owed $15 million, has been with the franchise for four seasons, three as head coach and each time leading the Cavs to the NBA Finals.
Sure the Cavs had the greatest player in the world, the Godly LeBron James for those glorious runs, but those last three years were extremely taxing on Lue.
Last season he missed several games with health issues, contemplating many to assume that he would resign from his post.
After James signed with the Lakers in the offseason, a more engaged Lue appeared to be relaxed and recharged for the 2018-19 season.
Initially both Lue and the Cavs front office were in agreement that this team could be competitive in the Eastern Conference and a sure fire playoff team at the least.
The problem came when either Lue or Altman could not agree on which was the best approach to get there.
Lue believed that his veteran players such as Kevin Love, Tristan Thompson, George Hill, JR Smith and Kyle Korver gave the team the best chance at achieving that goal.
Altman preferred to see the younger players such as Larry Nance Jr., Jordan Clarkson, David Nwaba, Cedi Osman and especially Collin Sexton play more prominent roles.
The two reportedly had a discussion about such a plan, but Lue refused to fully embrace the charge and implement it.
From Altman’s perspective it makes sense to get your young players the necessary experience and if nothing else to find out what you really have, but chances are you would be losing games in the process.
Lue’s point was that his seasoned, high salaried veteran players gave the Cavs the best chance to compete and win, but they failed him miserably just as they have done in the past.
It was Lue’s loyalty to his core players that ultimately cost him his job.
So, the Cavs will turn to a familiar voice Larry Drew, a former head coach with both Milwaukee and Atlanta, who will take over on an interim basis.
“This was a very difficult decision. It is especially so, considering Coach Lue’s time with us over the last four years, including four straight trips to the NBA Finals,” said Altman. “We have respect and great admiration for Ty, not only as a coach, but a person. We thank him for the many ways he has contributed to our success, wish him the best and he will always be remembered for leading a very special Cavs team back against the odds to win the title in 2016. This is a different team equation, though, and one that we felt needed a different voice and approach that required this change.”
Lue was praised by James on Twitter and many of the players who took to social media to thank their former coach.
"My time here in Cleveland was truly special," Lue said in a statement released Sunday afternoon. "I am very grateful for the dedication, sacrifice and support of all the players on our team, the tremendous coaches I've worked with and of course, our incredible fans. Lastly, deep thanks to Dan Gilbert, David Griffin and Koby Altman for the opportunity over the last three years and I only wish the organization success moving forward."
Lue joined the Cavaliers coaching staff in June of 2014 as associate head coach. He was promoted to head coach in January of 2016, thus becoming the 20th head coach in franchise history. As head coach of the Cavaliers, he had a combined regular season record of 128-83 (.606) and a 41-20 (.672) mark in the playoffs.