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Tyronn Lue Wants Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love to Focus Less on Their ‘Brand’ and Defer More to LeBron James

Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving

Seeking to find the best way to take advantage of the trio of LeBron James, Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving, new Cleveland Cavaliers head coach Tyronn Lue has indicated that Love and Irving will need to sacrifice their previous roles as main components in favor of James in order for the team to reach its goal of an NBA title.

In explaining his reasoning in an article by the Cleveland Plain Dealer’s Joe Vardon, Lue referenced two championship teams that were able to accomplish the task of having a “Big Three” work smoothly together. Those two teams were the Boston Celtics and Miami Heat. In the latter case, Lue spoke of how closely Irving’s situation parallels that of Dwyane Wade when James signed with the Heat in 2010.

Referencing the Celtics, Lue compared how he had served as an assistant under Doc Rivers, coaching the veteran trio of Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce:

“It was late in their careers, so they had to win a championship now,” Lue said. “With Kyrie and Kevin, they’re young, so it’s still about their brand and different things, it’s just way different.”

Irving gave hints that he understands what Lue is trying to do, noting that the trio had appeared to work though the issue last season:

“Me and Kev will do a great job with adjusting to it, but our brands are the last thing we’re worried about,” Irving said. “If Kevin was worried about his brand, I don’t think Kevin would’ve came back. And for me to sign here, it was for a legitimate reason and we have a bigger goal at hand that we want to accomplish. That’s always coming first.”

With regard to the Heat, an article Lue had read indicated that Wade came to the conclusion that without deferring to James in their second season together, Miami would have never won a title. They were able to win two titles in a row after that realization took place, which was the year after the Heat lost in the NBA Finals in six games.

“You gotta think about that. That’s real sacrifice for a guy who’s won a championship, it was Wade country, and then have to turn the keys over to LeBron James when it was always your team,” Lue said.

In the case of Love, Lue indicated that he may be more effective as a part of the second team, even though he’ll continue starting. Since Irving returned on December 20, Love has averaged just 12.9 points and his shooting percentage has dipped to 39 percent on the year.

The hope is that Irving will be able to take advantage of more mismatches in transition and Love will get more scoring opportunities with the reserves.

James appears to be taking a hands-off approach to the strategy:

“I could have a Big Eight, I just want to win,” James said. “I don’t really care. I work every single day for this franchise and for this team and for Kev and for Kyrie to put us in a position to win.”

Despite the Cavaliers’ record of 31-12, they’ve recently struggled against the best teams in the league. Lue understands that everyone needs to buy in:

“I talked to our team about, ‘if you win, everybody’s brand is better, if you win as a unit, everybody gets credit for it.’”  Lue said. “Just trying to keep instilling that in our guys because, you know, we still have a young group of guys. If we win, everybody’s taken care of, so that’s the message.”

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