Cleveland Cavaliers Coach Tyronn Lue is taking a leave of absence from the team because of health issues, capping a weekend in which he remained in the locker room with an undisclosed illness during a game against the Chicago Bulls.
In a statement Monday morning, Lue said he had been having “chest pains and other troubling symptoms, compounded by a loss of sleep” all during the season. Three times this season, he has missed all or part of a game with an illness.
“After many conversations with our doctors and [General Manager] Koby [Altman] and much thought given to what is best for the team and my health, I need to step back from coaching for the time being and focus on trying to establish a stronger and healthier foundation from which to coach for the rest of the season,” Lue’s statement said.
“I have had chest pains and other troubling symptoms, compounded by a loss of sleep, throughout the year. Despite a battery of tests, there have been no conclusions as to what the exact issue is.
“While I have tried to work through it, the last thing I want is for it to affect the team. I am going to use this time to focus on a prescribed routine and medication, which has previously been difficult to start in the midst of a season. My goal is to come out of it a stronger and healthier version of myself so I can continue to lead this team to the championship we are all working towards.
“I greatly appreciate [owner] Dan Gilbert, Koby Altman, our medical team and the organization’s support throughout.”
Associate coach Larry Drew will steer the team in Lue’s absence.
LeBron James admitted Sunday that players had been worried about their 40-year-old coach, who has been considering the move for weeks, according to ESPN.
“He’s the captain of the ship, so absolutely,” James replied (via Yahoo) to a question about whether Lue’s health was affecting the team.
“We worry about his health, obviously. That’s way more important than this game of basketball. We know he’s been doing everything he needs to do to stay healthy, take even more measures to get himself right. Everything that’s been going on with our year, it’s just another one.”
The timing is difficult, with just 13 games remaining in the regular season and the Cavs clinging to the East’s third seed, just a half game up on the Washington Wizards. Cleveland is playing .500 basketball over its last 10 games.
Tensions have also been high. On Friday, James and Lue jawed at one another during the Cavs’ loss to Portland.
According to Yahoo’s Chris Mannix, James and Lue started to go at it while James was still on the court and continued their debate on the bench. Lue, Mannix says, was unhappy with James’s shot selection.
Lue took over as Cavs coach in January 2016 after the firing of David Blatt and led the team to its only championship as it overcame a 3-1 deficit against the Warriors in the Finals.
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