Cavaliers head coach Tyronn Lue is stepping away from coaching to take care of health issues that he described as “chest pains and other troubling symptoms” in a statement released by the team on Monday. Associate head coach Larry Drew will take over in the interim.
Sources told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski in a Monday report that Lue hopes to return to the sideline before the start of the playoffs.
“While I have tried to work through it, the last thing I want is for it to affect the team,” Lue said in the statement. “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.”
Lue didn’t follow the Cavs out of the locker room after halftime of Saturday’s 114–109 win against the Bulls because of illness. He remained there for the duration of the game, but was initially expected to return Monday, for Cleveland’s home game against the Bucks.
That marked the third time this season that Lue, 40, had missed a portion of a game because of illness, an issue that hasn’t gone unnoticed by his players. LeBron James told reporters Sunday that it “doesn’t catch us off guard because [Lue’s] been dealing with it for so long now.” Monday’s press release was the first time Lue or the team had given any details about what might be going on with the head coach.
Lue, in his second full season as Cavs head coach and fourth overall in Cleveland, is the latest in a long list of sidelined Cavaliers. Kevin Love, Tristan Thompson, Rodney Hood, Cedi Osman, Larry Nance Jr., and Kyle Korver are all on the injury report for Cleveland, which is third in the Eastern Conference at 40–29 with 13 games left to play in the regular season.
Drew has been with the Cleveland coaching staff since the 2014–15 season, and has 22 seasons’ experience as an assistant coach in the NBA. He has also spent four seasons as a head coach, with the Hawks and Bucks, during which his teams compiled a combined 143–169 record.
This piece was updated at 12:34 p.m. ET on March 19 with additional information after publication.