Lue not first choice, but expected to be hired by Lakers, anyway

Former Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue apparently is on his way back to the Clippers.

Tyronn Lue will soon be the Los Angeles Lakers’ new coach but that doesn’t mean Lue was the Lakers’ first choice.

According to Marc Stein of the New York Times, Lue is more of a “fallback” option, someone who is benefiting from previously having coached Lakers star LeBron James.

“Lue was not the unanimous favorite to replace Walton among the Lakers’ many decision-makers in the wake of Magic Johnson’s abrupt April 9 resignation,” Stein wrote in his latest newsletter. “He was indeed favored over (Monty) Williams, but there were some nagging fears among a minority of the team’s power brokers — as mentioned here previously — that hiring LeBron’s former Cleveland Cavaliers coach would be giving James too much control in Lakerland.”

Despite the addition of James, the Lakers missed the playoffs for a franchise-record sixth straight season. Lue and James, of course, were members of the Cleveland Cavaliers’ 2016 title-winning team.

While the Cavs were often maddening during the regular season and portions of the playoffs, Lue did coach them to three straight appearances in the Finals (and was the lead assistant under David Blatt for a fourth). The Cavs faced the Golden State Warriors each time.

Lue was fired following an 0-6 start this past season. The Cavs are the only team Lue has coached.

Now, it appears the Lakers will be next.

“In my previous life as a sideline reporter for ESPN Radio at the NBA finals, I had the opportunity to observe countless Cavaliers huddles during timeouts over three consecutive postseasons,” Stein noted. “That blessed gig gave me the chance to watch the way James and Lue interact in game situations from very close range.

“So I can confidently say, as much as any outsider can, that Lue will coach LeBron as firmly as anyone can. I’ve actually seen it happen.”

As Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports reported, Lue could attempt to bring former Indiana Pacers and Orlando Magic coach Frank Vogel with him to the Lakers.