Lue took the advice of Rivers and joined his staff in 2009 and was with him until 2014, when an opportunity to become an associate head coach under head coach David Blatt with the Cavs opened up. From there, Lou took over in the middle of the 2015-16 season, and led the Cavs to the 2016 NBA Championship.
But what did Rivers see in Lue that prompted him to extend a coaching invitation?
Prior to hiring Lue, Rivers had a talk with the journeyman guard about possibly joining his coaching staff because he saw the potential to be a good coach.
“There’s guys you coach all the time that you say, ‘He’ll be a coach.’ And Ty Lue was on the top of that list,” Rivers said. “I told him when you’re ready to stop trying to play basketball and you want to come sit on the bench and join us, we’ll create it,” Rivers said. “No matter how many coaches we have, I’ll get you a job.”
With the Tyronn Lue-led Cleveland Cavaliers in town to take on the LA Clippers and Los Angeles Lakers, Doc Rivers took the time to talk about Lue when told by reporters that Lue thinks he knows Rivers better than Rivers knows him.
“Oh yeah, that's a fact,” Rivers responded without hesitation. “I mean, listen, the guy was with me for a thousand years and every practice, every play we ran in practice, that's why you knew he was going to be a heck of a head coach.”
In October of 2009, Lue retired from the NBA and became the fifth Celtics' assistant on Rivers' staff. He worked his way up the chain and was one of the lead assistants with Boston from 2011-2013 as well as with the LA Clippers in 2013-14. He then took a promotion as the associate head coach to David Blatt with the Cleveland Cavaliers during the 2014-15 season, LeBron James' first in his second stint with the Cavs.
He was named Blatt's immediate replacement, and coached the Cavs for the final 41 games of the season, going 27-14, and helped lead them to the 2016 NBA Championship, becoming the first team to overcome a 3-1 deficit in the NBA Finals.
Doc Rivers recalled all of the extensive note-taking Lue would do during every single practice with the Celtics and Clippers.
“He would keep that extra notepad and literally every ATO (after-timeout plays) I've run in my entire life with Ty, he has and he worked on. He would write them down, he had a book each year and he'd label them ‘Doc's ATO's' and he tweaks them and he runs them. I didn't have that luxury of watching him do it, so clearly, in that way, he clearly knows me better for sure.”
“He's a thief,” Rivers said with a smile to close out his comments about Lue.
Lue has had a rough time with the Cavs this season having to deal with the countless injuries to Kevin Love, Tristan Thompson, Isaiah Thomas, Rodney Hood, Cedi Osman, and Derrick Rose. On the other hand, however, Rivers was possibly dealt an even worse hand with extended absences due to injuries to Blake Griffin, Danilo Gallinari, Milos Teodosic, Patrick Beverley, and DeAndre Jordan.
Both teams look poised to make a run for the postseason, although the team with LeBron James is always going to be in better position come playoff time.