Back in 2019, the Los Angeles Lakers hired NBA coaching veteran Frank Vogel to replace Luke Walton.
According to numbers reports at the time, Vogel wasn’t actually L.A.’s first choice.
Tyronn Lue, who coached LeBron James to a Championship with the Cavs in 2016, was a highly regarded candidate before talks ultimately fell apart.
In a recent chat with Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN, Lue revealed why things never worked out on that front.
Lue had an opportunity to reunite with James when the Lakers interviewed him for the coaching job in 2019. But the Lakers offered Lue a three-year deal worth $18 million, far below the five-year, $35-million deal he had with the Cavs, and wanted to dictate Lue’s staff. Lue pulled out of negotiations and the Lakers hired Frank Vogel.
“The Lakers [saw it] more so as like [I’m just] coming to coach LeBron,” Lue said. “No, I’m coming to win. I just didn’t think I was treated fairly. And I wasn’t just going to accept any offer just to get a job.
"I just thought I was better than that.”
The Lakers had a pretty strict set of conditions for Lue. They wanted to pick his staff and they wanted to set his “role.” Put those things along with the lowball salary offer, and it’s no wonder why Lue turned down the opportunity.
In the end, it’s a decision that has worked out well for him. As he leads a talented and overarching Clippers team to a respectable place in the West, the Lakers are struggling to maintain order amid disappointing performances.
With the Clippers, Lue has proven to be one of the best coaches in basketball.
"The job I've been able to do with the team now, like, Spo was the same way in Miami," Lue says of emerging out of James' shadow. "It's also made me want to be better because not having LeBron, now I got to show people that I know my stuff. Like I can really coach. And I still got to get a lot better. But I just want to prove to people that I can coach."
Even without Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, the Clippers are 4.5 games ahead of their rivals. When healthy, they could be in a position to win a title.
Had Lue made a different choice that summer, he might not even have an NBA coaching job today.