Cleveland Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue is temporarily leaving his coaching duties behind to concentrate on his health. The team made the official announcement on Monday morning.
Per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Lue went to the locker room earlier than expected during the Cavaliers’ win over the Bulls on Saturday. This the third time this season Lue’s health has held him back.
According to Sporting News writer Bob Hille, the amount of time Lue will be away from the team is unknown to the team or Lue. However, Hille goes on to say (originally courtesy of TNT’s David Aldridge) that Lue is currently riding a “one-week plan to address his health issues.”
Haley O’Shaughnessy of The Ringer revealed that despite the turn of events on Saturday, the health scare was initially coined as minor. Lue was expected to coach during Cleveland’s game against the Milwaukee Bucks tonight. However, since the former NBA player is leaving the Cavs for a short while, associate head coach Larry Drew will temporarily step in as head coach.
Based on what Tim Cato of SB Nation reported, this would not be Drew’s first rodeo. Drew was the head coach of the Atlanta Hawks from 2010 to 2013, and for the Bucks in the 2013-2014 campaign.
Cavaliers’ general manager Koby Altman said the following about Lue’s health concerns on Monday, via the team’s website.
“We know how difficult these circumstances are for Coach Lue and we support him totally in this focused approach to addressing his health issues.”
Wojnarowski reminded his readers that Lue had to leave in the middle of a game against Orlando on February 6. Additionally, there was a time back in December when he missed a contest against Chicago due to an illness.
Although Lue does not like the current circumstances, he decided that this was the right time to take a break. Via the team’s press release, his goal is to be much “stronger” when he returns to the helm.
“After many conversations with our doctors and Koby and much thought given to what is best for the team and my health, I need to step back from coaching for the time being and focus on trying to establish a stronger and healthier foundation from which to coach for the rest of the season.”
Perhaps the most concerning thing about Lue is that the crux of his issues is unknown. According to the same press release, Lue dived into additional details as best as he could.
“I have had chest pains and other troubling symptoms, compounded by a loss of sleep, throughout the year. Despite a battery of tests, there have been no conclusions as to what the exact issue is.”
The news does not come at an ideal time for the Cavs, who are looking to remain one of the top four seeds in the East.
Besides that, the news arrived during a year that has already tested Cleveland numerous times. Kevin Skiver of CBS Sports documented the adversity the Eastern Conference team has dealt with. The sportswriter detailed elements such as injuries, losing streaks, and quirky off the court dilemmas. Those problems and more have not made it a smooth ride for the 2016 champions.
However, despite the bad timing, LeBron James understands and respects Lue’s decision. Amid other things, James admitted his team would need to “step up,” according to Yahoo Sports.
James also had the following to say in light of Lue’s leave of absence via the same report.
“It’s tough,” James said.
“It’s like losing one of your best players. He’s pretty much the captain of our ship. He’s run the thing for the last three years… But (Lue’s) health is the most important thing and we look forward to getting him back.”
CBS Sports‘ Jack Maloney disclosed that Lue is not the first coach in the league this year to miss time because of health concerns. Maloney noted that the Charlotte Hornets’ Steve Clifford also missed an extended period. His absence related to the same sleep issues Lue hinted at. Thankfully, Clifford is back to coaching now and is doing okay.
The Eastern Conference’s third seed will undoubtedly be tested during the upcoming days. Be that as it may, SI.com’s Rohan Nadkarni alludes to the Cavs’ excellent resiliency. Even supposing the stress they have endured this season, the ball club is still in a healthy position in the standings.
Their current position is primarily due to James’ spectacular play. The Akron Hammer is averaging 27.1 points, 8.6 boards, and 9.0 assists per night. Without him, the road ahead would be even bumpier for the Ohio team.
Stemming from Wojnarowski’s report, Lue was doing all he could to battle through the issue. Lue considered the idea of taking a break sooner but did not want to due to the Cavs’ off and on struggles. Earlier in the year, the ball club endured an awful losing streak. It is also key to remember that the team went through quite a shake-up last month before the trade deadline.
However, at this point, Lue cannot ignore his physical health any longer. He openly admitted he did not want it to negatively impact the Cavs in their closing games.
According to the New York Daily News, Lue has never talked about his health obstacles until Monday.
In a perfect case scenario, the Cavs would certainly like to have Lue back on the sidelines in the timeline Aldridge suggested. If not, Cleveland fans can only hope Lue returns before the playoffs kick off next month.