Lue reaches out to Lakers coach Walton in effort to calm rumors
Former Cleveland Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue has reached out to Luke Walton to refute rumors linking Lue to the Los Angeles Lakers, according to Bill Oram of The Athletic.
Lue would be a top candidate for the Lakers job should they move on from Walton after the season, as many expect, according to reports from ESPN's Stephen A. Smith and Marc Stein of the New York Times.
According to Oram, Lue called Walton to assure the Lakers' coach that Lue had not been contacted by the team.
"The source said Lue told Walton that if he was contacted by someone in the organization he would let the Lakers coach know out of 'courtesy and friendship,'" Oram reported. "Walton and Lue have a warm relationship. Both won championships as players with the Lakers. Over breakfast during the Las Vegas Summer League last year, the former Cavaliers coach offered Walton suggestions on how to succeed in coaching (LeBron) James."
Per a report from Stein, Lue has a “significant advantage” over other potential candidates because of his relationship with James.
Despite the addition of James in free agency, the Lakers will miss the playoffs for the sixth straight year. There has been talk they are could be shut out in their quest to trade for New Orleans Pelicans star Anthony Davis or land any of the top free agents -- though it is much too early to consider those assumptions as truths.
Lue and James had a strong relationship when the two were together with the Cavs, who won the championship in 2016 and advanced to the Finals four straight seasons. But Lue also needed time off with what the team described as exhaustion, as the drama that comes with coaching James seemed to wear down Lue.
Lue spent his first three seasons as a player with the Lakers (1999-2001). He later played for the Washington Wizards, making him a teammate of both the Lakers’ Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal, as well as Michael Jordan with the Wizards.
He compiled a 128-83 record (.607) as coach of the Cavaliers in the regular season and a 41-20 mark (.672) during the playoffs. Lue took over for David Blatt during the 2015-16 season to lead the Cavs to their lone championship.
Lue spent time volunteering with Doc Rivers and the Los Angeles Clippers earlier this season after being fired by the Cavs in November.