EMPIRE OF THE SUNS

Report: Clippers want to retain coach Ty Lue as Lakers, and potentially Suns, have opening

May 3, 2024, 1:39 PM | Updated: 1:41 pm

Ty Lue, Suns, head coach, candidate, Clippers...

Head coach Tyronn Lue of the Los Angeles Clippers stands on the court during the game against the Phoenix Suns at Footprint Center on April 09, 2023 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Clippers defeated the Suns 119-114. (Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images)

(Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images)

Fans and 10-steps-ahead prognosticators loosely linked Los Angeles Clippers coach Ty Lue to the Los Angeles Lakers’ and Phoenix Suns’ head-coaching jobs before they were available.

After the Lakers fired head coach Darvin Ham on Friday, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski doused the barely lit flame of those possibilities, calling Lue leaving the Clippers “unrealistic.”

“The Clippers are determined to do a long-term deal with Ty Lue, I’m told,” Wojnarowski said on ESPN’s NBA Today. “They want him to be their coach for a long time. That’s a conversation that will happen after the playoffs are over, but they love the job he did this season. They love the job he’s done there.”

Los Angeles notably will enter next year wanting to remain competitive as the franchise moves out of a shared home arena with the Lakers and into a state-of-the-art Intuit Dome.

A commitment to Lue, who still has a year left on his deal, would dampen what the coaching market would look like if the Suns follow the Lakers and open their head-coaching position by firing Frank Vogel.

Lue was viewed as a long-shot candidate for Phoenix before it hired Vogel last offseason. Then, the Clippers were coming off a playoff exit at the hands of the Suns. A knee injury that sidelined Kawhi Leonard to end the year put his status in question, and it left the door open for the Clippers to blow up their current core group.

That’s not dissimilar of a situation to now, except that the Clippers under owner Steve Ballmer have appeared to maintain their current trajectory with George and Leonard. They doubled down on the star-studded roster construction and added Harden this year.

“This is an organization that by all indications, however this series (with Dallas) ends up, wants to re-sign Paul George, James Harden, try to improve that roster around those two, of course, and Kawhi Leonard,” Wojnarowski said.

Wojnarowski adds that the Lakers had eyed Lue as a head coach ahead of the 2019-20 season before hiring Vogel.

Of course, Vogel went on to win the NBA championship that COVID-impacted season before he was fired in 2022.

Vogel took a year off before replacing Monty Williams as Suns head coach. He won 49 games in a deep Western Conference this year, but Phoenix owner Mat Ishbia declined to issue a word of support for Vogel on Wednesday, saying he would meet with his leaders in the coming days.

Vogel, for what it’s worth, said on Sunday that he felt Ishbia’s full support. That comment came before Game 4 wrapped up a sweep of Phoenix at the hand of the Minnesota Timberwolves.

The Athletic reported immediately after the loss that the Suns would be evaluating Vogel’s job or at least his staff that already lost top assistant Kevin Young, who made the leap to coach the BYU Cougars.

At present, the list of proven head coaches on the market is short.

Former Atlanta Hawks and Milwaukee Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer is not with a team but could step back into the head-coach seat.

Among current top assistants with experience in the lead chair, former Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson (Golden State Warriors) and former Charlotte Hornets coach James Borrego (New Orleans Pelicans) “could be part of this conversation” to fill head-coaching roles, according to Wojnarowski.

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