Koby Altman was hurt by LeBron James’ decision to leave the Cleveland Cavaliers and head west to the Los Angeles Lakers, and it seems as though head coach Tyronn Lue had the same feelings. During the wine and gold’s Summer League opener Friday night, Lue joined the NBA TV broadcast to talk about a number of things, most notably about his former All-Star.
Much like Cavs fans and the general manager, Lue was somewhat caught off guard by James’ decision to leave Cleveland for the second time in his career. While it was always a thought in the back of everyone’s mind, that still didn’t ease some of the pain.
“It was a surprise. We talked, we had dialogue all summer, but I didn’t want to ask him those questions,” Lue said. “We have a good friendship, and I respect his privacy. I respect his decision. We just talked about basketball, talked about the draft, things you want to get better at next season.
“I didn’t expect it. When I saw, I was shocked and hurt a little bit by the decision, but like I said, we talked and he said I’m his favorite guy. He loved being coached by me. He loved the four seasons we had together, and this decision was solely on just a decision for himself and his family, and I can live with that.”
Wait, LeBron was coached by someone and he wasn’t both the team’s best player, head coach, and general manager? Someone may need to tell NBA Twitter this.
But seriously, for somewhat being put on the spot, Lue answered the question about as well as he could. I mean, what else was he supposed to say about losing the best player in the world?
While losing James (obviously) isn’t good, Lue and the Cavs have no other option than to look forward to the upcoming season and the post-LeBron era. He will now get a chance to develop the young players, including rookie Collin Sexton and second-year guys like Cedi Osman and Ante Zizic. The head coach has supposedly already taken advantage of the developmental process and has planned one-on-one workouts with Jordan Clarkson and Sexton, teaching them everything he already knows about being a point guard in the NBA.
Dave McMenamin, Jason Lloyd, and Joe Vardon all seemed to agree that losing No. 23 may be a bit of a weight off Lue’s shoulders. The head coach will no longer feel pressured to win on a nightly basis, especially when it came to the postseason. Everything Lue did on the court was put under a microscope, especially if it had to do with James. While losing the superstar is never considered a good thing, it might mean that for the first time, Lue can actually be himself. He can decide how the Cavs play instead of planning everything around the King. Also, if the Cavs succeed under Lue’s guidance, the head coach will actually receive credit now rather than James getting all the attention, both good and bad.
Lue may have been shocked and hurt by LeBron’s decision, just like the rest of us, but for the first time as a head coach in the NBA, he (finally) has no pressure and can actually be a coach that develops young players and creates his own offense. It’s important to look at the positives in bad situations, right? Maybe that’s what Lue, the Cavs, and Cleveland must do going forward, in what could be a rough couple years ahead for the wine and gold.