Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue stepping away from court due to health issues

Cleveland Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue / Erik Drost via Wikimedia Commons

Cleveland Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue has decided to take a leave of absence from coaching to focus on his health, ESPN reported Monday.

Lue, 40, left Saturday night’s game against the Chicago Bulls early — the third time his health has forced his departure midgame.

“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 said in a statement to ESPN.

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“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.”

Team kept him off court

Despite Lue’s desire to return to Saturday’s game, league sources told ESPN that he was persuaded by staff to remain in the locker room.

The team “shut him down,” a source told ESPN. “The only way it was going to happen was if they did it. He never wanted to be perceived as letting his team down. They took the decision out of his hands.”

Team sources also revealed to ESPN that Lue has been coughing up blood.

“While I have tried to work through it, the last thing I want is for it to affect the team,” Lue continued. “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.”

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“It’s probably well overdue,” forward Lebron James told reporters Monday. “He’s been going through a lot this season.”

Associate head coach Larry Drew will take over coaching duties in the interim, ESPN said.

“I think players understand that coaches go through [medical issues] just like players do,” Drew said Monday. “What T. Lue has shown is shown the warrior that he is. If you would have left it up to him he’d be sitting in this chair right now instead of me, that’s just who he is.

Time to heal

“He wants to be with the team, but there comes a point where you have to take a step back and you really have to assess things … this thing has kind of been lingering just a little bit too long. He needs to really just step away and allow himself to heal before rejoining the team.”

ESPN reports that Lue was also forced to leave a loss to the Orlando Magic on Feb. 6 because he was not feeling well. He also missed a game Dec. 21 against the Bulls with an undisclosed illness, requiring him to stay in the locker room after arriving at the arena.

Lue considered stepping away earlier in the season due to his health issues, but he resisted because he didn’t want to give the appearance that he was leaving the team during a losing streak. He also resisted stepping away again after February’s trade deadline roster overhaul because he wanted to help integrate the new players into Cleveland’s lineup.

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