ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported the Rockets may offer Lue the job before the Clippers have completed the interview process for the vacancy. Lue is considered a top contender for both the Clippers' and Rockets' openings.
The Rockets are expected to interview ESPN analyst Jeff Van Gundy for their vacancy Wednesday, per Marc Stein of the New York Times. Houston assistant John Lucas will also interview for the position.
Lue spent the 2019-20 season on Doc Rivers' bench after failed negotiations to become the Los Angeles Lakers head coach. The 43-year-old previously spent parts of four seasons coaching the Cleveland Cavaliers, leading the franchise to the 2015-16 NBA championship and three NBA Finals.
While few NBA coaches had a better situation in their first job than Lue, he was the Lakers' (and, thus, LeBron James') first choice for a reason. Lue knows how to navigate high-pressure situations without cracking and develops strong relationships with his players. Wojnarowski's report says players on the Rockets and Clippers have both vouched for Lue.
The Rockets are looking to replace Mike D'Antoni, who left the franchise after four seasons amid what amounted to a yearlong falling-out with management. D'Antoni and the Rockets had tense contract extension negotiations last offseason that spilled out into the press, with Houston offering what the coach thought was a below-market deal for his accomplishments. While both sides said all the right things about his departure, it's unlikely the relationship ever recovered.
The Rockets' next coach faces a challenge: a helplessly cash-strapped team built around a small-ball identity and two 30-plus stars who don't particularly mesh well on the court. Barring some major roster retooling, this is probably a team that tops out in the second round and has no obvious way of upgrading for the foreseeable future.