What Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, Clippers need to win NBA title, per Tyronn Lue
Every day since Tuesday, September 15th has been a grueling one for the LA Clippers franchise and its fanbase. After dropping Game 7 and blowing a 3-1 lead in the Conference Semifinals in what was supposed to be a title year, the organization has taken a step back to review what changes needed to be made to get to the mountaintop. On Wednesday afternoon, Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, and the LA Clippers began a new era of basketball with the introduction of Tyronn Lue as the team’s new head coach.
After weeks of searching and more than a handful of coaches interviewed, the Clippers officially announced Tyronn Lue as the franchise’s new head coach. With owner Steve Ballmer and President of Basketball Operations Lawrence Frank alongside him on Zoom, Lue met with members of the media on Wednesday morning in his introductory press conference following his promotion to head coach.
The Clippers playoff failures were the center of attention Wednesday, with everyone wanting to know what and how Lue planned to implement changes that former head coach Doc Rivers could not.
“I think a few things,” Tyronn Lue said. “I think just looking at our team, we need to play faster, at a better pace. I think getting easy baskets is one thing. I think sharing the basketball, playing through our best players and then also making the other players on our team better, moving the basketball, changing the sides of the floor with the ball, I think is very important for this team. But also getting our players in the best position and best spots on the floor that they are comfortable in, and they have kind of played in those spots or positions throughout their career.”
Tyronn Lue on what it'll take to get the Clippers to the NBA Finals – "Just looking at our team, we need to play faster, at a better pace. I think getting easy baskets is one thing. Sharing the basketball, playing through our best players." pic.twitter.com/sexaDCuIJe
— Tomer Azarly (@TomerAzarly) October 21, 2020
Following the Clippers’ Game 7 loss, the focus quickly flipped to try and explain the collapse. Kawhi Leonard and Lou Williams, among other players, claimed chemistry issues as the biggest reason for the loss.
“We did have championship expectations,” Williams said after Game 7. “We had the talent to do it. I don’t think we had the chemistry to do it and it showed. We had lapses on defense and offense where I think guys that played in systems where they were expected guys to be in certain spots offensively, a lot of different guys made adjustments. You know, it showed.”
The chemistry Williams and the Clippers mentioned were purely on-court, claims Tyronn Lue.
“I think when you talk about chemistry and continuity, it is not off the court, the guys not liking each other. When you talk about chemistry, it is moreso [Paul George] came in and he had shoulder surgery, so he was out, he missed the whole training camp and he was out the first 11 games of the season. Kawhi came in and he couldn’t participate in the whole training camp, and then we lost Pat Beverley, in and out of the lineup a few times. Once we got into the bubble, it was tough because we had some bad things happen, Trez’s grandmother, Pat Beverley’s best friend, Lou had a funeral, so with those things being said, it was hard to build continuity and chemistry throughout the course of the season because we didn’t have a lot of practice time, we didn’t have our starting unit or our whole team for large part of the season.
“When we talk about chemistry and continuity, it is moreso on the basketball court of just being familiar with guys and how guys like to receive the ball, where this guy likes to be on the floor, it is moreso like that and that comes from being healthy and not having as many injuries.”
The disappointing end to the season puts even more pressure on the Clippers to win a championship this upcoming season. Both Kawhi Leonard and Paul George are entering their second year together in Los Angeles, but both have player options ahead of the big summer of free agency in 2021. The two superstars made long-term commitments to the organization when they decided to team up together last summer, but it’ll be important not to give them any reasons to doubt those commitments.
Despite being with the team in the bubble and assisted their pursuit of a title, Lue now takes charge of a team with the pressure the world on their shoulders. So how does Ty Lue approach that?
“I’m big on pressure because if you don’t have pressure that doesn’t mean you have a chance of winning the Championship,” Tyronn Lue explained. “When you talk about pressure, that means you’re in a situation to win. That’s what I want to do. I want to be one of the greatest coaches. I want to be great. In order to be great, you have to win.
“So to me when you start talking about pressure and all that it means, to me it just means you’re in a position to win the championship, and you want to take on those pressures. You want to be better. You want to be great. In order to be great you have to get over those hurdles. I’m excited about it. I don’t look at it as pressure. I look at it more so as a chance to win another championship and a chance to take this team to a higher level.”
Lue and the Clippers reportedly agreed to a five-year deal, so while the franchise collectively wants to win a championship now, this partnership is one that’s expected to last a long time. It’s still very early in the process, but Tyronn Lue appears to be the right man for the job.