Tyronn Lue Assembling a Powerhouse Coaching Staff in L.A.

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  • The Clippers are adding Kenny Atkinson, Dan Craig, and Chauncey Billups to their coaching staff.
  • Earlier this month, Tyronn Lue was hired as head coach to replace Doc Rivers.
  • At +500, the Clippers have the second shortest odds to win the 2021 NBA title.

Expectations were sky high after the team signed free agent Kawhi Leonard during the offseason. The Clippers then traded for Paul George and became instant preseason title favorites. The regular season was rough because they had to deal with load management and injury issues. Still, the Clippers finished with the second best record in the Western Conference.

Everything started well in the playoffs. After dropping a couple of games to the Dallas Mavericks in the first round of the playoffs, they dominated the Denver Nuggets through the first four games of the series, taking a 3-1 lead. But then everything fell off the cliff. They blew big leads and allowed the Nuggets to steal the series 4-3.

Lue Assembles Powerhouse Coaching Staff

After the disappointing finish, the team parted ways with head coach Doc Rivers. After a brief coaching search, Steve Ballmer gave the keys of his team to Tyronn Lue, promoting the former Cleveland Cavaliers champion coach as Rivers’ replacement. Shortly after Lue was hired, he immediately beefed up his coaching staff by luring three impressive names.

First off, Lue got former Lakers player Larry Drew who was Lue’s assistant in Cleveland. Then Lue went after former Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson and then chased Miami Heat assistant Dan Craig. Although the three are not yet officially signed by the Clippers, sources are confirming that they have agreed in principle to be part of Lue’s coaching staff.

Once the Clippers finalize the hiring of these three big names, they should have one of the most impressive coaching staff in the league. But while coaching is important to every team’s success, it can never win an NBA title if it does not have the manpower to compete with the rest of the league.

Clippers Have Big Free Agent Decisions To Make

The Clippers had the most talented team during the 2019-20 season. But when the free agency period starts, they are going to have some issues with that talented lineup. Sure, Kawhi Leonard and Paul George want to run things back and try to make up for last season’s disaster, but will they have the supporting cast they need to topple their cross town rivals?

Beyond their superstar duo, only Ivica Zubac, Patrick Beverley, Lou Williams, and Landry Shamet are signed beyond the 2019-20 season. The likes of Marcus Morris and Montrezl Harrell are unrestricted free agents when the free agency clock starts. Jamychal Green has $5.1M player option but there is a chance that he will hit the market too.

While we’d like to think they want to join Klaw and PG in another run at the title, it would be a surprise to see both stay with the other 29 teams expected to covet them as well. It doesn’t help that the Clippers have already a total of $109M in salary commitments to nine players next season. If you are realistic enough, its likely that either Harrell, Morris, or both will look for greener pastures outside Los Angeles.

Filling The Roster Will Be Tricky

Given their free agent situation, the bigger task for Lue is to identify which of their free agents do they want to keep, if any. Once that decision is made, the next thing to do is scout for their replacements. But the Clippers are cash-strapped because of cap restrictions so filling the lineup is going to be tricky.

The Clippers are second in the current BetOnline oddsboard to win the 2021 NBA title. At +550, they only trail the Lakers who at +350, are the current odds on favorite to repeat as champions. A lot of people said that the Clippers would’ve given the Lakers a better challenge in the Western Conference Finals. However, they didn’t do their part and were ousted by the Nuggets.

No question that it’s championship or bust for the Clippers this season. That’s what makes Tyronn Lue’s job both a blessing and a curse. It great to see that Lue is making sure he start on the right track by picking the best assistant coaches available in the market. However, that’s just halfway winning the battle. The other 50% depends on the players and how they fill up their roster will be the key.

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Shane Acedera / Author

Shane grew up watching the Magic & Bird rivalry but ended up rooting for Detroit's Bad Boys team in the 1990s NBA. He loves to tell sports stories and has been writing about sports since high school. When Shane isn't busy jotting down his thoughts, he's just chillin' at home with his wife Rocelle and their two dogs named Horry and Fisher. He recently added a new family member, adopting a handsome retired K-9 named Ranger.