"I just thought I was better than that." - Ty Lue on his refusal of the Lakers job
LA Clippers coach Ty Lue recently explained why he turned down the offer from the Lakers back in 2019. The former Cavs coach said it was about respect.
As speculation about the future of the Lakers' coach continues to intensify, another coach has revealed just why he didn't take the job in Los Angeles to begin with.
Ty Lue opens up about Lakers decision
Though it might come as a surprise, Lakers' coach Frank Vogel was not actually the franchise's first choice back in 2019. Despite the fact that he went on to win a championship, the Lakers actually had their hearts set on the former Cleveland Cavaliers coach Ty Lue. Having previously coached and won with LeBron James when he was in Cleveland, Lue was seen as a logical fit for the Lakers who at the time were trying to construct a new roster around the iconic James.
In the end, however, the deal fell apart for reasons that up until now were not known. According to reports the Lakers had offered Lue a three-year contract which in actuality was the same deal they would eventually agree to with Vogel, however, it is understood that they wanted to retain the right to have a say in Lue's staff selection. Lue would eventually decline and in a recent interview explained that for him it was largely about respect or rather a lack thereof. "The Lakers [saw it] more so as like [I'm just] coming to coach LeBron," Lue said. "No, I'm coming to win. I just didn't think I was treated fairly. And I wasn't just going to accept any offer just to get a job. I just thought I was better than that."
Could Ty Lue have been a better fit for the Lakers?
While its always easier to form an opinion when looking back, the reality is that Vogel's appointment as coach really only brought success for a year. With that single championship, Vogel's tenure has been marred by mismanagement and key injuries ever since. As things stand, he's now all but out of the job with the expectation being that a new coach will arrive in the summer, after the second consecutive season without even a hint of title contention. With all of that said, one can't help but wonder about what could have been with Lue at the helm.
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Lue for his part ended up with the Clippers. Initially serving as their assistant and then finally taking the reigns as their head coach just one year later. His time with the Clippers has received immense praise, as he has taken them on the hunt for a playoff spot without the likes of star players Kawhi Leonard and Paul George who have seen long spells on the sidelines due to injury. In truth were he available, Lue would be without doubt one of the most sought after coaches in the league.
So Why didn't the Lakers go with Ty Lue?
Arriving at a clear answer to the above question will of course depend on who you ask. On the other hand, one thing that we can infer when looking at the scenario is that the Lakers saw Lue more as a caretaker for LeBron James specifically, rather than a top tier basketball coach. With just a casual glance at the details it wouldn't take long to understand that the three-year deal offered to Lue at the time would have expired at the same time as the original four-year deal that James was signed to. That of course would have allowed the Lakers to offload both player and coach if that's what it came to at the end. Its worth noting of course, that James has since signed an extension and so too has Vogel, but that said extension is for just one year would seem to indicate that the Lakers do not have much faith in their coach. The Clippers in contrast put pen to paper on a five year deal for Lue.
When the cookie crumbles it does indeed come down to respect, which according to Lue is something that just wasn't felt in the negotiation process with the Lakers. Did the Lakers miss out on the opportunity to sign a coach who would have been well suited to both the present and post LeBron James era? Probably. Yet with the franchise in a state of flux now as they look towards a rebuild, one can only wonder if this time around they will set out a more long term plan as opposed to the short term one that brought them here.