After arriving at the decision to take a leave absence to address his medical concerns, Cleveland Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue texted assistant Larry Drew at 1:30 a.m. on Monday: “It’s your show.”
“He wants me to go out there and just kind of do what I do,” Drew told reporters on Monday. “We’ll tweak some things, we’ll add some things, but for the most part we’ll do what we’ve been doing.”
Drew’s show, doing what he does, will not include lineup decisions, according to Cleveland.com.
The Cavaliers returned All-Star forward Kevin Love to the starting lineup in Monday’s victory against the Milwaukee Bucks — the team’s first game without Lue — and injured teammates Rodney Hood (back), Larry Nance Jr. (hamstring) and Tristan Thompson (ankle) are all expected back soon, possibly as early as Wednesday’s potential Eastern Conference playoff preview against the Toronto Raptors.
In their absence, Drew started George Hill, Kyle Korver, Jeff Green, LeBron James and Love — a group that had yet to play a single minute together and Cleveland’s 22nd starting lineup this season. That number will expand to 23 soon enough, when either Nance or Thompson will join James and Love in the starting frontcourt. Hood could also replace Korver as the starting two-guard alongside Hill.
“Coach Lue is the one who makes that decision,” Drew told reporters Monday. “That’s not my call.”
Since the Cavaliers traded half their roster at the Feb. 8 deadline, they have not had their full contingent of rotational players — and won’t at least until Osman returns. They have just 12 games remaining in the regular season, a crucial stretch that will determine whether they can hold on to a home playoff seed, all while the coaching staff tries to find a rotation that can produce consistently.
“I’ll talk to Ty,” Drew told reporters on Monday. “We’ll talk about it. He’s got the final say-so. Whatever he wants, then that’s what we’re going to go with. But if he tells me to make a decision, then I’ll have to make a decision. But we’ll talk. We’ll talk probably tonight. If not tonight, probably tomorrow. Once we do get our full squad back, decisions will have to be made and as a a staff we’ll make them.”
Lue had been experiencing “chest pains and other troubling symptoms, compounded by a loss of sleep” that prevented him from finishing three games this season. Among those troubling symptoms, according to ESPN’s Dave McMenanim, was coughing up blood. The last straw came Saturday, when the Cavs reportedly kept Lue from returning for the second half of a game against the Chicago Bulls and all but forced him to take a leave of absence for medical issues that as of Monday were undiagnosed.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that the Cavaliers coach is expected back in days, not weeks, and Lue told ESPN’s Rachel Nichols in a text message that he intended to return in a week’s time, permitting that alterations to his medication, rest, exercise and diet could restore his health quickly. The hope, obviously, is that Lue is afforded that rest while continuing to make roster decisions.
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