Cleveland Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue said he was shocked that LeBron James left to sign with the Los Angeles Lakers.
In an interview with NBA TV during a Cavaliers summer league game, Lue said he thought James was going to stay.
“I didn’t expect it, when I saw it I was shocked,” Lue said. “But we talked, and he said I’m his favourite guy. He loved being coached by me, he loved the four seasons we had together and this decision was solely for himself and his family. And I can live with that.”
Lue will be meeting with Lakers coaches this summer so they can pick his brain about coaching James, according to a report from the Los Angeles Times.
In an interview with the Times, Lue said he’s going to tell Lakers coach Luke Walton that James isn’t hard to coach, but having him on the roster brings extra pressure to the entire team.
“I’ll just tell them, LeBron’s easy,” Lue said. “People get this whole thing built up like he’s hard to coach, it’s not. LeBron’s not the problem. It’s the outside tension that’s the problem. Just put added pressure immediately on the coaches, on his teammates.
“Now everything you do is under a microscope… So it’s going to be a totally different change for the Lakers. They’ll be able to handle it. LeBron is easy to play with, very unselfish. LeBron can bring guys along, make sure they’re doing the right thing. It’s going to be good. The outside is what you’ve gotta be able to block out.”
Lue has plenty of experience coaching James, having been an assistant with the Cavaliers for two years before being promoted to head coach in January of 2016. James returned to the Cavaliers in 2014 and led the team to the NBA Finals four straight times, winning the title once in 2016.
While the Cavaliers obviously now have a massive hole in their lineup to fill, Lue had nothing but nice things to say about James as a person. But his comments also made it clear that he knows the Cavaliers’ path back to the Finals just got a lot harder.
“Everybody he’s touched is made better,” Lue told the Times. “Family, friends, organizations, the city of Cleveland, his players, his coaches. He made everybody’s life easier, everybody’s better.
“It’s tough to lose that type of piece. It was hard to swallow.”