New coach Lue eyes title with Clippers

New coach Lue eyes title with Clippers

LOS ANGELES • The Los Angeles Clippers announced on Tuesday that Tyronn Lue has been promoted from assistant to head coach, replacing Doc Rivers, who was fired last month.

“We conducted a thorough search and spoke with fantastic candidates. We found that the best choice for our team was already in our building,” said Clippers president Lawrence Frank.

“As head coach, Ty will put a unique imprint on the organisation and drive us to new heights.”

The National Basketball Association (NBA) side unveiled the 43-year-old at a news conference yesterday. No details of Lue’s contract were released but American media reported the two sides had agreed on a five-year deal.

“The pieces we need are in place – committed ownership, smart management, and elite talent, on and off the court, in the NBA’s best market,” Lue said in a statement. “My familiarity with the organisation, particularly (team owner Steve Ballmer) and Lawrence, confirmed this is where I want to be.

“We have work to do to become champions, but we have the motivation, the tools, and the support to get there. I’m excited to get started.”

Rivers, who earlier this month was appointed the Philadelphia 76ers head coach, was sacked after the second seeds in the Western Conference squandered a 3-1 lead to lose their second-round play-off series against the Denver Nuggets last month.

The Clippers, who have never progressed past the West finals, had been touted as one of the championship favourites after acquiring last year’s Finals Most Valuable Player Kawhi Leonard and fellow All-Star Paul George, but the team’s chemistry never looked right under Rivers.

Lue was the head coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers when they captured the NBA championship with LeBron James in 2016.

However, he was sacked after a 0-6 start to the 2018-19 season as the Cavs failed to cope with the departure of James to the Los Angeles Lakers.

Multiple media outlets reported last week that former Detroit Pistons star Chauncey Billups would serve as Lue’s assistant, but the Clippers were yet to confirm the appointment.

In the East, Indiana Pacers also named a new head coach on Tuesday in the wake of the sacking of Nate McMillan in August.

A Pacers statement said Toronto Raptors assistant coach Nate Bjorkgren, who helped the Canadian team win their first championship last year, had been hired after an “extensive and thorough” search.

Their president of basketball operations Kevin Pritchard added of the new man: “He comes from a winning background, has experienced championship success, is innovative and his communication skills along with his positivity are tremendous.”

The appointment marks Bjorkgren’s first head coach role in the NBA. He said: “This is something I have prepared for during my career. I’m looking forward to working with this great team to achieve our goal as NBA champions.”

Indiana suffered a first-round sweep by finalists Miami Heat in August.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS