The Los Angeles Lakers’ 2019-20 triumph came about in special circumstances for several reasons. Among them, it happened under Frank Vogel, who only took over in L.A. after the franchise missed out on top targets during its head coach search in the summer of 2019.
Vogel proved to be the perfect fit with the 2019-20 Lakers, turning them into a fearsome defense that carried L.A. to the title in the Orlando bubble. But the organization’s front office initially had had a different vision for the team, pursuing the likes of Monty Williams and Tyronn Lue to take charge of the Purple and Gold before hiring the former Indiana Pacers and Orlando Magic coach.
Lue seemed like a natural candidate for the position considering his history with LeBron James — with whom he won the 2016 NBA title while for the Cleveland Cavaliers. He would become Doc Rivers’ assistant on the L.A. Clippers instead and replace him as head coach in 2020.
According to ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk, the Lakers perhaps leaned too much on Lue’s ties to James during the interview process, leading to a breakdown in negotiations:
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.”
Lue led the Clippers to their first-ever Western Conference Finals appearance last year. His side has also exceeded expectations in 2021-22, staying in the hunt for a playoff spot despite Kawhi Leonard and Paul George’s absence.
Lue says Lakers’ titles ‘speak for themselves’
Lue joined the Clippers right before their rivalry with the Lakers would become the fiercest ever. As part of the jibe exchange that’s been going on between the teams for several years, Reggie Jackson recently said the Clippers were the “heart of L.A.’ while the Lakers were the city’s “bright lights.”
Lue, who won two NBA championships with the Lakers, offered a slightly different take on the issue. “They have, what, 17 championships? That speaks for itself,” he said.
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