Ten months ago, LeBron took a shot at the Clippers when asked about load management. To remind you, James was coming back from his longest offseason since high-school, prompted by a groin injury. He dismissed the idea of skipping games and said if he’s healthy, he’s playing. This was Doc Rivers on the topic.
We did see in the end – the Lakers went home with the Larry O,’ and the Clippers lost a 3-1 lead in an epic meltdown. It’s funny how Doc implied the Clippers had a system in place while the Lakers catered to their star. Paul George seemed to rub everyone the wrong way, and Kawhi was nowhere to be found – it’s hard to pick up on things from San Diego.
Ty Lue was there for all of it and obviously understand what his priority is. In his first public appearance as the Clippers coach, Lue talked about his plans and expectations for the upcoming season. He sent a clear message to his superstars.
“Kawhi and PG are going to have to adjust to my system and my program. But also, I also have to be able to adjust to their comfort zone and what makes them better. Also setting the tone defensively of being the two best two-way players in the league. I think it starts on the defensive end with those two guys with setting a tone defensively.”Ty Lue, ESPN
This is a diplomatic way of saying Glenn is not walking through that door anymore, and things will be different. Kawhi and George may be the stars, and it’s Lue’s job to maximize their skill and talent – but he’s the coach, and what he says goes. Every time a coach stresses defense that means he expects effort on every play. The Clippers built their entire brand and marketing campaign on being the blue-collar team. It seems Lue will challenge the team to prove it on the court. He stressed health is important, but blue-collar players, LA our way kind of people, don’t skip games and workouts because it hurts. You go to work every day, even when it’s not optimal.
Look, one of the key things in the Clippers coaching search is finding a coach who is more willing to incorporate input from the front office, particularly the analytics department. I’m sure Ty Lue will rest Kawhi when needed; this won’t be a 180. But it is obvious Lue used every opportunity to send a message Kawhi and George are going to have to step up, and while their input will be appreciated, the coach will make the final decision.