According to new Los Angeles Clippers coach Ty Lue, the team's biggest issue this past season was chemistry, or a lack thereof. In Lue's eyes though, the chemistry wasn't an off-court issue, or the result of players not liking each other. Instead, Lue thinks that the lack of continuity caused by injuries is what prevented the Clippers from finding a real rhythm.
"I think when you talk about chemistry and continuity, it is not off the court, the guys not liking each other," Lue said in his virtual introductory press conference, via ESPN. "When you talk about chemistry, it is more so [Paul George] came in and he had shoulder surgery, so he was out, he missed the whole training camp and was out the first 11 games of the season. Kawhi [Leonard] came in and couldn't participate in the whole training camp, and then we lost Pat Beverley, in and out of the lineup a few times."
Moving forward, Lue is obviously hopeful that the Clippers will be able to develop more consistent chemistry, and a big part of that is leadership. As the two stars of the team, most automatically expect that Kawhi Leonard and Paul George will be L.A.'s de facto leaders. However, that won't necessarily be the case according to Lue, who thinks that leadership will be a collaborative effort between several of the squad's veteran players, as well as the head coach himself.
"Leadership is different," Lue said. "You can talk about our two players, Kawhi and PG, they lead by example... And you are not going to have the best players be the natural leaders at all times. It doesn't happen like that. I think a lot of leadership has to come from me, has to come from Kawhi, PG, Lou and Pat Beverley. It's going to be collective... I got to show them different ways of leadership and they got to show me different ways of leadership. I don't know everything. They don't know everything. ... The biggest thing about leadership is just communication."
Heading into his new gig facing championship expectations, Lue knows that there will be immense pressure on him and his players, but he thinks that all parties are prepared.
"Anytime you have a chance to win a championship, it's pressure," Lue said. "I want to be one of the greatest coaches. In order to be great, you have to win."
There will be some added pressure on the Clippers this season as Leonard and George both have the option to opt-out of their current contracts after the 2020-21 campaign, and if things don't go well again, that possibility could become a reality. Lue isn't worried about that though, as he's confident that the two stars will remain in Clippers uniforms for the foreseeable future.
"I think Kawhi, PG are here to stay for a long time. We just gotta make it a great environment and we have to win," Lue said. "... [Leonard and George] are going to have to adjust to my system and my program. But also I also have to be able to adjust to their comfort zone and what makes them better. Also setting the tone defensively of being the two best two-way players in the league. I think it starts on the defensive end with those two guys with setting a tone defensively. I think health is the biggest thing moving forward."
After leading LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers to an NBA title in 2016, Lue certainly has experience when it comes to dealing with pressure-packed situations. That experience will serve him well in L.A., where he will be expected to hit the ground running. Next season, the Clippers will at least have to advance farther in the postseason than they did this year -- when they were defeated by the Dallas Mavericks in the Western Conference semifinals -- for Lue's first season to be considered successful.