WASHINGTON, USA – Cleveland Cavaliers general manager Koby Altman admitted it was a “very difficult decision” to axe Tyronn Lue as the team’s head coach after leading the club to a historic NBA title in 2016.
Lue was given the pink slip by the Cavaliers following the club’s latest loss that marked a league-worst 0-6 record in the young season and was replaced by deputy Larry Drew, who takes over as interim coach.
“This was a very difficult decision,” Altman said. “It is especially so, considering coach Lue’s time with us over the last 4 years, including 4 straight trips to the NBA Finals.”
Lue, who was a former associate coach for Cleveland, took over the LeBron James-led squad in January 2016 after the mid-season firing of Dave Blatt.
He then guided the Cavaliers to an NBA championship in the same year and the first for any team in the city since the 1964 NFL Browns.
But James departed in the off-season for the Los Angeles Lakers and little was expected of the Cavs this season.
“We have respect and great admiration for Ty, not only as a coach, but a person,” Altman said.
“We thank him for the many ways he has contributed to our success, wish him the best and he will always be remembered for leading a very special Cavs team back against the odds to win the title in 2016.”
“This is a different team equation, though, and one that we felt needed a different voice and approach that required this change.”
The 41-year-old mentor went 128-83 in just over 2 1/2 seasons as Cavaliers coach with a 41-20 record in the playoffs.
But with James gone, not even 3 consecutive trips to the finals in his 3 three seasons as coach could save Lue. The Cavs have not led this season in the second half and are off to their worst start since 1995.
In a statement to ESPN, Lue thanked Altman, former Cavs general manager David Griffin and team owner Dan Gilbert.
“My time here in Cleveland was truly special,” Lue said. “I am very grateful for the dedication, sacrifice, and support of all the players on our team, the tremendous coaches I worked with and of course, our incredible fans.
“Lastly, deep thanks to Dan Gilbert, David Griffin and Koby Altman for the opportunity over the last 3 years and I only wish the organization success moving forward.”
Drew, 60, has a 143-169 record as an NBA coach in 3 seasons with Atlanta from 2010 through 2013 and the 2013-14 campaign with Milwaukee. He joined the Cavs’ staff in 2014 after the Bucks hired Jason Kidd as their coach.
Drew went 8-1 last season guiding the Cavs while Lue was out with an illness. – Rappler.com