Lue takes leave from Cavs over health issues

CLEVELAND Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue is taking a break from coaching after health concerns forced him from courtside for the third time this season, the NBA team said on Monday.

Interim head coach Larry Drew of the Cleveland Cavaliers reacts on the sidelines during the second half of their NBA game against the Milwaukee Bucks at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio, on Monday. The Cavaliers won 124-117. 

CLEVELAND Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue is taking a break from coaching after health concerns forced him from courtside for the third time this season, the NBA team said on Monday.

Lue left Saturday’s 114-109 victory over the Chicago Bulls at halftime after complaining of feeling unwell. His departure came just over a month after he left the court during a game against Orlando on February 6. He also sat out a game against the Bulls in December.

With assistant Larry Drew standing in on the sidelines, the Cavaliers defeated the Milwaukee Bucks 124-117 in Cleveland on Monday night.

Drew said before the game that he knew Lue was reluctant to step away, calling him a “warrior”.

“He doesn’t want to miss games, he doesn’t want to miss practices,” Drew said. “But there comes a point where you have to take a step back and you really have to assess things.”

Lue said in a statement on Monday he was taking a break from coaching duties after revealing he had been suffering from mystery chest pains.

“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. 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,” Lue said.

ESPN reported that Lue expected to be back in time for the start of the playoffs next month, where the Cavs will be chasing a 4th straight appearance in the NBA finals after ending runners-up last year.

Lue said he hoped to return rejuvenated after his break. “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,” he said.

LeBron James said he was informed of Lue’s decision at morning shootaround, saying it was “probably well overdue”.

“I knew he was struggling, but he was never not himself. He was just dealing with it the best way he could,” James said. “Once he leaves the gym and goes home, there’s things we don’t know, but he was the same every single day even though he was going through what he was going through.”

A stress-filled season for the Cavs has taken a toll on the 40-year-old Lue, who led them to the 2016 NBA championship after taking over for David Blatt midway through that season. They are 41-29, third in the Eastern Conference, and have endured roster shake-ups, injuries and other distractions.

Drew has previous head coaching experience with Atlanta and Milwaukee.

Charlotte coach Steve Clifford also left his team to address his health this season. He took six weeks off. Medical tests revealed that the 56-year-old Clifford did not have any internal problems, but the doctor’s diagnosis was the coach was suffering from severe sleep deprivation.

Just as All-Star forward Kevin Love returned from a broken hand on Monday, the Cavaliers will have to go an undetermined length of time without Lue. James was asked how his absence would impact the team.

“We’re going to find out. It’s tough. It’s like losing one of your best players, a guy that’s pretty much the captain of our ship who has run the team the last three years. Everyone has to step up,” James said.

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