Today we finish up our series on our five dream candidates for the Oklahoma City Thunder head coaching job. For the most part, we have given you a list of coaches that won't be coming to Oklahoma City; now, we go down a more realistic road.
Tyronn Lue is currently a member of the Clippers staff and a hot name thrown out for the 76ers and Rockets gigs. Their rosters may look more attractive than the Thunder's, but when you have a General Manager like Sam Presti that spins head-scratching moves into gold, Oklahoma City becomes a destination spot.
Why It Will Work: In two of his last three seasons in Cleveland, Lue won over 100 games and led the Cavilers to back-to-back appearances in the Eastern Conference Finals. Lue took over for David Blatt midway through the 2015-2016 season. That year the Cavs overcame a 3-1 deficit, beating Golden State in the NBA finals.
Lue is only 43-years-old but has paid his dues as an NBA coach. Before going to Cleveland as an assistant, he spent five years with Doc Rivers in Boston and Los Angeles. His age and playing experience will help him connect with the young players in Oklahoma City.
Presti would respect the fact that Lue wasn't handed a job the moment he stepped off the court, plus, having coached the likes of LeBron James and J.R. Smith, he can deal with strong personalities without getting run over.
Since they are contemporaries, Presti might also be willing to work more hand in hand with Lue than he has other coaches, allowing him to have more say in how the Thunder's roster is built.
Why It's Not Going To Happen: There are reports that Lue wants $7,000,000 a year for his next head coaching job but would settle for $5,000,000 to $6,000,000. Not sure how much Clay Benett intends to pay the new Thunder coach, but it's probably less than what Lu is asking.
He also took a leave of absence in 2108 for health reasons. "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" there were reports he was even coughing up blood.
After a few weeks off, Lue returned to the bench and helped the Cavs get to the Eastern Conference Finals. Six games into the 2018-2019 season, he was let go after an 0-6 start.
James had bolted for L.A., and the Cavs were starting to rebuild. So the question becomes, can Lue win without a seasoned superstar?
Lue wants to find a situation where he has a chance to win now, and unless the Thunder stays together, it won't be Oklahoma City. He would be a good fit for Presti and young players like Lu Dort, Darius Bazley, and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, but he has options.
If the Rockets and 76ers don't offer Lue their jobs, he could fall into the Thunder's lap, and if he does, they should jump.
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With more than 20 years of experience hosting local and national radio shows, Erik Gee is a fixture of Oklahoma sports media. He has covered the Oklahoma City Thunder for the past eight seasons. He is also the co-host of the Pat Jones show on 97.1 The Sports Animal in Tulsa.