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The Cleveland Cavaliers will be without the man who guided them to the NBA championship in 2016 for a period of time.
In a statement released by the team Monday morning, it was announced coach Tyronn Lue will step back from coaching for now because of heath-related issues. Associate head coach Larry Drew, a former NBA head coach with the Atlanta Hawks and the Milwaukee Bucks, will fill Lue’s role.
“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,” Lue said in a statement released by the team.
“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.
“While I have tried to work through it, the last thing I want is for it to affect the team. I am going to use this time to focus on a prescribed routine and medication, which has previously been difficult to start in the midst of a season. My goal is to come out of it a stronger and healthier version of myself so I can continue to lead this team to the championship we are all working towards.”
“I greatly appreciate Dan Gilbert, Koby Altman, our medical team and the organization’s support throughout.”
Altman, the team’s general manager, offered total and complete support to the 40-year-old Lue, who will turn 41 in May, in the statement:
“We know how difficult these circumstances are for Coach Lue and we support him totally in this focused approach to addressing his health issues.”
Longtime NBA reporter David Aldridge tweeted the plan is for Lue to return soon.
Tyronn Lue will be on a one-week plan to address his health issues, per source. The current plan is to return to the bench next week.
— David Aldridge (@davidaldridgedc) March 19, 2018
Adrian Wojnarowski o ESPN reported Lue has thought about stepping back for quite some time.
Ty Lue has been considering this option of stepping away for several weeks, but resisted until now, league sources tell ESPN. https://t.co/X0cKojiJmw
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) March 19, 2018
Lue did not come out for the second half of Cleveland’s 113-109 victory at Chicago on Saturday night at United Center, the second time this has happened this season and the third game he has missed overall. He did not come out for the second half of a loss to Orlando on Feb. 21 and missed a game against Chicago on Dec. 21.
“I think it’s probably long overdue,” LeBron James said after shootaround Monday at the team’s practice facility in Independence. “Understanding what he’s going through throughout the season, so obviously, health is the most important (thing) with everything, in life, so I’m not surprised by it, at all.
“It’s obviously like losing one of your best players,” he continued. “Obviously, the guy that’s pretty much the captain of the ship, that’s run the thing for the last three years. Everyone has to step up. We have coaches in place that’s ready for that challenge and we have to do our job as players as well. Like I said, his health is most important and we look forward to when he comes back.”
James said after the win in Chicago that Lue’s health issues are impacting the team.
“(It) doesn’t catch us off guard because he’s been dealing with it for so long now,” James said. “But anytime he doesn’t come back to the bench, it’s just an alarm going off, obviously.
“Like I said, his health is more important. He’s not going to talk about it, so I don’t want to talk about it no more, either. That’s just how he is and I don’t want to get too much into it.”
Lue, who took over at the midpoint of the 2015-16 season when David Blatt was fired on Jan. 22 of that season, is 118-74 (.615) in the regular season and 29-10 (.744) in the playoffs, leading Cleveland to the last two of its three consecutive Eastern Conference championships.
Lue’s health is the latest of a long run of health-related issues that have plagued the Cavaliers this season.
Cleveland is currently playing without five-time All-Star Kevin Love (broken left hand), Larry Nance Jr. (right hamstring), Tristan Thompson (right ankle), Rodney Hood (lower back) and rookie Cedi Osman (left hip). Kyle Korver was not with the team Saturday night in Chicago because of a family emergency.
In addition, Love missed the second half of a loss in Atlanta on November and left after three minutes of a blowout loss to visiting Oklahoma City in January with what were later diagnosed as panic attacks.
The Cavaliers (40-29) host the Milwaukee Bucks tonight at Quicken Loans Arena. Currently third in the Eastern Conference standings, the Cavaliers have 13 regular-season games to play.
Drew, 59 and who will turn 60 on April 2, is 143-169 (.458) in four seasons as a head coach, three in Atlanta (2010-11 through 2012-13) and one in Milwaukee (2013-14). He joined the Cavaliers as an assistant coach the following season.