New Los Angeles Clippers coach Ty Lue isn’t worried about his two stars jumping ship when their contracts expire after next season.
Both Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, Lue told ESPN’s Rachel Nichols on Thursday, aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.
A fireside chat with new Clippers Coach Ty Lue - on his couple weeks as the NBA's most wanted man, his plans to address team chemistry, how long he thinks Kawhi & PG are sticking around, and whether he regrets not taking the Lakers job.
Also: he & I fight over Chauncey Billups 😂 pic.twitter.com/1KxL7OH8Mk
— Rachel Nichols (@Rachel__Nichols) October 22, 2020
“I think Kawhi and PG are here to stay for a long time,” Lue said on ESPN. “It’s just, I think in their situation and where they want to be is here with the Clippers. We’ve just got to make it a great environment, and we have to win.”
Leonard’s, George’s contracts expire after 2020-21
It’s easy to see why both Leonard and George would want to stay put with the Clippers for the long haul.
Not only is the team set up well to make a title run in the near future, but the two players are both from the Southern California area and are playing just miles from where they grew up. Finding a situation like that in the NBA isn’t an easy thing to do.
Leonard can opt out of his three-year, $103 million deal with the team after next season, and George can opt out of his four-year, $136 million deal he initially signed with the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The Clippers were long favorites to win the championship last season, both before and after the COVID-19 hiatus. They secured the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference, behind only the Los Angeles Lakers, however struggled in the playoffs.
The Clippers survived a tough opening series with the Dallas Mavericks, and then blew a 3-1 series lead to the Denver Nuggets in the semifinals — something that stunned the basketball world.
In order to get both Leonard and George to want to re-sign, Lue — who worked under Rivers as an assistant last season — will likely have to successfully lead the team on a deep postseason run next year. If either or both do end up leaving, it will fall largely on his shoulders.
“If you don’t have pressure, that means you’re not in a situation where you can win a championship,” Lue said on ESPN. “I’ll welcome that pressure because I want to win. Anytime you have a chance to win a championship, there’s pressure.”
Ty Lue made sure to get Doc Rivers’ blessing
Lue, after losing his head coaching job with the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2018, worked under Rivers in Los Angeles last season. The two are extremely tight, too — something that made Lue’s interview process with the team a little awkward.
When they first started talking seriously about him taking over, Lue wasn’t sure if he could proceed.
At least, he was until he called his old boss.
“I couldn’t have taken this job without Doc’s blessings,” Lue said on ESPN. “When the Clippers reached out, I made sure I talked to Doc and see how he felt about it. He said, ‘Ty, you absolutely have to do it. If you don’t take it, somebody else will. If I want anyone to have a job, it would be you Ty.’
“Once he gave me that blessing, it kind of went on from there.”
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