The Cleveland Cavaliers will have a new head coach for the immediate future. Tyronn Lue is stepping away from the team for an indefinite amount of time because of health reasons, and assistant coach Larry Drew will take over.
Lue and Cleveland general manager Koby Altman released statements regarding the decision Monday morning. The head coach had missed portions of three games this season because of an undisclosed illness.
“After many conversations with our doctors and Koby and much thought given to what is best for the team and my health, I need to step back from coaching for the time being and focus on trying to establish a stronger and healthier foundation from which to coach for the rest of the season,” Lue said.
“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.
“While I have tried to work through it, the last thing I want is for it to affect the team. I am going to use this time to focus on a prescribed routine and medication, which has previously been difficult to start in the midst of a season. My goal is to come out of it a stronger and healthier version of myself so I can continue to lead this team to the Championship we are all working towards.”
Key statement from Ty Lue: "I have had chest pains and other troubling symptoms, compounded by a loss of sleep, throughout the year." Team source told ESPN, for instance, that when CLE returned from its road trip, Lue did not fall asleep until 9:30 a.m. Sunday morning.
— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) March 19, 2018
Drew, 59, joined the Cavaliers as an assistant in 2014. He was the head coach of the Atlanta Hawks from 2010-2013, going to the playoffs in all three seasons with the team but never winning a playoff series. He became the head coach of the Milwaukee Bucks for the 2013-2014 season when Atlanta didn’t renew his contract, though he was fired after the team went 15-67.
Drew was the No.17 overall pick by the Detroit Pistons in the 1980 NBA Draft. He played 10 NBA seasons and has been a coach in the league since 1992.
Cleveland’s first game without Lue comes Monday night when the team hosts Milwaukee. The Cavaliers have 13 games remaining on the regular-season schedule before the playoffs begin on April 14.
Charlotte Hornets head coach Steve Clifford took a similar leave of absence this season. He missed 21 games because of severe headaches that were the result of sleep deprivation.
Lue took over as Cleveland’s head coach during the regular season two years ago when David Blatt was fired. The Cavs went on to defeat the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals that year.
Despite LeBron James playing like an MVP candidate, Cleveland has struggled this season. The Cavs are the No.3 seed in the Eastern Conference with a 40-29 record.
Cleveland trails the No.2 seed Boston Celtics by 11 games in the standings, and they only have a 3.5-game lead on the No.8 seed Miami Heat.