Doc Rivers’ top priority is leading his Los Angeles Clippers to an NBA second-round playoff series victory over the Denver Nuggets.
But that doesn’t hinder the coach from rooting for assistant Ty Lue to get another head-coaching gig. Lue, the former Cleveland Cavaliers head coach, is a candidate for coaching vacancies with the 76ers and New Orleans Pelicans.
“He deserves it,” Rivers said of Lue earlier this week during a Zoom call. “It’s a joke that he’s not a head coach. But it’s to my advantage that he’s not.”
Lue was a candidate for the Nets job before Steve Nash was hired on Thursday.
Multiple sources have said Lue and the Sixers have mutual interest. The Sixers, who fired Brett Brown on Aug. 24 after seven seasons, know he would bring an NBA championship resume to a franchise in desperate need of a reboot.
Lue knows Sixers general manager Elton Brand from their playing days. Lue won consecutive NBA titles as a reserve guard for the Los Angeles Lakers in 2000 and 2001, and the second championship came over the Sixers. As a head coach, he led the Cavaliers to their only NBA title, in 2016.
Any new Sixers coach will likely have to make players accountable for their failures, something that Brown didn’t always do. The organization is obviously looking for a veteran coach to push and refine current all-stars Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons.
Lue compiled a 128-83 regular-season record with Cleveland. The Cavaliers promoted him to head coach on Jan. 22, 2016, and he was fired on Oct. 28, 2018.
While he wants $7 million per season, Lue could settle for $5 or $6 million. The Sixers still owe Brett Brown around $10 million on the final two years of his deal.
“He’s been phenomenal on my staff,” Rivers said of Lue. “It’s amazing getting him after being a [head] coach once, and now he’s your assistant again. And the difference in him ... People don’t understand that little two feet next step [to being the head coach], you change.
“He’s just a wonderful guy to be around. His IQ, his feel ... He’s made this year really enjoyable for me.”