Tyronn Lue to replace Monty Williams on Team USA basketball staff

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Thursday, February 9, 2023

LA Clippers coach Tyronn Lue will replace the Phoenix Suns' Monty Williams on the USA Basketball men's national team coaching staff for this year's World Cup and next year's Paris Olympics.

Williams stepped down because of family commitments, U.S. men's national team managing director Grant Hill said Wednesday.

Lue joins head coach Steve Kerr of the Golden State Warriors and fellow assistants Erik Spoelstra of the Miami Heat and Mark Few of Gonzaga on the staff.

"When Grant Hill and Steve Kerr gave me that call, it was a great moment for me, because it's something I wanted to do," Lue said Wednesday night after his Clippers played the Dallas Mavericks. "As a basketball player, you grow up wanting to play on the USA team, but I wasn't quite good enough to do that. And now you become a coach and you have a chance to be affiliated with representing your country, which means a lot.

"It's an honor, it's a blessing, and I'm just excited to have this opportunity."

The U.S. has not yet qualified for either this summer's World Cup or the 2024 Olympics. The Americans -- who use mostly G League players in qualifying games, before filling the roster with NBA talent for the major tournaments -- will look to clinch a World Cup berth in the sixth and final window of qualifying games for that tournament later this month.

Williams -- who was on the coaching staff for the U.S. teams that won gold at the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics -- was introduced in December 2021 as a member of the USA Basketball staff for this cycle.

"This has been a difficult choice, but given the timing and the demands of the commitment, it is the best choice for myself and my family," Williams said. "I am incredibly grateful to Grant Hill and Coach Kerr, both for giving me the opportunity to be an assistant coach and for their understanding of my decision."

If the Americans qualify for the World Cup -- one win in either of their two qualifying games this month at Uruguay and at Brazil will clinch the spot, and there are other ways for them to get in as well -- then they will play in the Philippines at the tournament that begins on Aug. 25. The Americans could then qualify for the Paris Games based on their World Cup finish.

The U.S. will try to win a fifth consecutive Olympic gold in Paris next year.