Larry Drew had a plan.
It did not involve coaching basketball. Not for a while anyway.
Drew coached the Hawks for three seasons after being an assistant coach with the organization. His contract was not renewed following the 2012-13 season, after the team let him know they were looking at other options. Drew was hired by the Bucks and spent the 2013-14 season at the head of their bench.
However, Drew was unceremoniously dumped by the Bucks 13 months later when Jason Kidd was hired.
“To be perfectly honest, after that whole situation went down in Milwaukee I was really, really contemplating sitting out a year,” Drew said. “The reason being, I’ve been at this thing for a long time, and I haven’t had a break. It’s been year after year. I thought it would be the perfect time to do it. I was still under contract with Milwaukee; they still owed me for two and a half years. It was a good time to take a step back and recharge my batteries.”
Drew thought he could rest, maybe do some TV work and watch his youngest son play his final season of high school basketball.
Then the Cavaliers called. New coach David Blatt asked him to consider a position on his staff. It was about that time that rumors of LeBron James’ possible return to Cleveland surfaced. It was reason for pause. When James made his decision, Drew’s phone lit up.
First there was a text from his oldest son Larry Drew II. Then his middle son Landon made contact. Finally, his youngest son Lindsey sent notice. All three urged him to return to coaching as a “no-brainer.”
Drew went to Las Vegas to speak to Blatt and took the job in August.
Now, the former Hawks coach faces his old team for a second time this season, Wednesday in Cleveland. He holds no bitter feelings toward the Hawks or even the Bucks after his poor treatment.
“I’ve seen stranger things happen,” Drew said. “Whether you think it’s fair or not, I don’t really dwell on that. I look back at guys who have been in similar situations and had stuff happen to them. I’ve learned to move on. I don’t any hard feelings about how things happened. Certainly, I wish it could have been handled a little differently (in Milwaukee) but it wasn’t.
“For me, the best thing for me to do is put it behind me and move forward. I still believe that there is something better for me down the road. After the whole Milwaukee situation, lo and behold Cleveland connected me, and I have come to a really good situation. They are looking to do some things here.”
After signing James, the Cavaliers added Kevin Love. Together, with Kyrie Irving, the Cavaliers have their own Big Three and are one of the favorites to win the Eastern Conference.
Drew is joined on the bench by former Hawks player Tyronn Lue. It’s the fourth stop together for the two, who also were in Los Angeles, Washington and Atlanta. Drew said he does a little bit of everything with the Cavaliers.
“If something else happens down the road for me, I’ll explore it,” Drew said. “I’m at the point in my coaching career where I’ve learned how to handle things, whether it be good or bad. That is what allows me to move on without any hard feelings.”
Drew said he has watched the Hawks from afar. He still considers Jeff Teague one of the top point guards in the league, thinks Kyle Korver is one of the top shooters, that Paul Millsap was a huge pickup and that Al Horford is getting back to his former self after injury.
“It doesn’t surprise me that they are doing as well as they are doing,” Drew said.