Every weekday, SI’s Chris Mannix will check-in with his Bubble Bits, a quick hit on something notable from inside the NBA’s campus
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Tyronn Lue already has a job, lead assistant for Doc Rivers, and will spend the next couple of months working to help the Clippers win a championship. If the buzz around Lue in the NBA bubble is correct, that may be the length of his tenure with Los Angeles.
Lue is expected to be a leading candidate for what could be several NBA coaching openings, multiple league executives told Sports Illustrated. The Knicks recently filled its coaching vacancy, hiring Tom Thibodeau. But in the coming weeks, other jobs could open.
The Nets will conduct a formal coaching search after the season, ESPN first reported. Jacque Vaughn has been brilliant in the bubble, leading Brooklyn to a 5-2 record despite missing Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Spencer Dinwiddie, DeAndre Jordan, Wilson Chandler and Taurean Prince. Vaughn will get strong consideration to retain the job, per sources, but with Durant and Irving returning from injury next season and the Nets expected to contend for a championship, ownership prefers a national search.
The Pelicans have struggled in the bubble, starting 2-5 and falling out of the playoff picture. Alvin Gentry has a year left on his contract and a solid relationship with GM David Griffin. But Griffin inherited Gentry when he took over basketball operations last year, and there’s an expectation that New Orleans will look to make a change.
“That’s not in my job description,” Gentry said, when asked about his future with the team. “If it was, I wouldn’t fire myself.”
Mike D’Antoni’s future in Houston has been cloudy since his contentious, public contract negotiations stalled last fall. While the Rockets have publicly supported D’Antoni, he is in the final year of his contract. An early playoff exit—the Rockets are in the middle of the Western Conference playoff picture, while Russell Westbrook’s quadriceps injury will keep him out for at least the final seeding game this week—could give Houston reason to make a change.
Brett Brown is in his seventh year with Philadelphia, having helped mold the Sixers from a 10-win team in 2015-16 to 50-plus in the last two full seasons. Brown deserves significant credit for the development of Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, and has had to deal with a regularly rotating cast around them. Still, Philly’s playoff struggles—the Sixers have yet to advance past the second round, a crushing loss to the Raptors in Game 7 of last season’s conference semis ending that season—could make Brown vulnerable if Philadelphia has another early exit.
Lue, 43, has not been a head coach since being fired by Cleveland early in the 2018-19 season. He reportedly rejected an offer to coach the Lakers last summer.
Lue won a championship in Cleveland after taking over for David Blatt midway through the 2015-16 season, leading the team to two more NBA Finals in the next two seasons. He has a 128-83 record as a head coach.