-Tyronn Lue is stepping down as head coach of the Cavaliers “for the time being” to deal with his ongoing illness, which has knocked him from three games and plagued him for virtually the entire season.
Chief assistant Larry Drew will take over for Lue, beginning with tonight’s game against the Milwaukee Bucks.
Lue, 40, said in a statement released Monday morning by the Cavs, made clear that he intends to return this season. He said he has “had chest pains and other troubling symptoms, compounded by a loss of sleep, throughout the year.”
“After many conversations with our doctors and Koby (Altman) 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 in the statement.
Lue has been examined repeatedly by Cleveland Clinic doctors for months and undergone a battery of tests, and there is no diagnosis. He did not return for the second half of Saturday’s win over the Bulls; previously he missed the second half of a loss to Orlando on Feb. 6 and the entire game against the Bulls on Dec. 21.
“I think it’s probably well overdue,” LeBron James said, of Lue’s stepping down. On Saturday, James said Lue’s illness was impacting the team.
A team source said the organization and Lue were in “agreement” that he had to step away now. James said he didn’t find out that Lue was leaving until just before shootaround.
“I’m new to it like y’all,” he said.
Players (like James) and people close to Lue have been aware of Lue’s condition for months. He resisted stepping away from the Cavs at various points during the season, dating to as early as November and December when the team won 18 of 19, and again in January when the team was struggling mightily.
“While I have tried to work through it, the last thing I want is for it to affect the team,” Lue said. 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’re all working towards.”
In the same statement released by the Cavs, Altman said “we know how difficult these circumstances are for (Lue) and we support him totally in this focused approach to addressing his health issues.”