- The Washington Times - Monday, October 8, 2001

WILMINGTON, N.C. When Tyronn Lue found out the two-time defending champion Los Angeles Lakers were not going to re-sign him, he didn't get down on himself.
Despite playing a major role in slowing Philadelphia's Allen Iverson in the NBA Finals, Lue saw the handwriting on the wall. The 6-foot Lue, a member of both title teams, knew Derek Fisher was entrenched as the team's starting point guard, Brian Shaw, at 35, was still around and Lindsey Hunter was acquired during the summer as an insurance policy.
Lue realized he no longer fit in with the Lakers. So when the Wizards started courting him, the 24-year-old Lue recognized that Washington with Chris Whitney the only pure point guard on the roster was a good place to get some playing time.
"Don't get me wrong, playing for the Lakers and winning championships was great," Lue said at Wizards training camp here on the UNC Wilmington campus. "I had a chance to show my leadership skills there but I couldn't be as vocal as I wanted to be in L.A. I decided to come some place where I could play and grow with a team. I'm very happy in the situation that I'm in."
According to coach Doug Collins, Lue could find himself going from a situation where he appeared in just 15 regular-season games with the Lakers to starting for the Wizards when the season opens on Oct. 30.
"That job is not locked up by anyone yet," Collins said. "That's going to be determined. Right now I like what I'm seeing out of both Chris [Whitney] and Tyronn. They know that they're competing."
A reserve at the start of last season, Whitney took over as a starter in December and then averaged 14.2 points and 6.2 assists. Due to a shortage at point guard, then-coach Leonard Hamilton was forced to play Whitney extensively on a sprained left ankle. Eventually the pain became unbearable and he was placed on the injured list for the final 22 games of the season.
Whitney, however, spent the summer working out intensely in Georgia and says he expects to stave off Lue's challenge for the starting job.
"I think I deserve to start," Whitney said. "I know how to run the team. Not taking anything from Ty Lue, but I've been here. I know I can run the team, I know I'm a starter in this league. It's not even a question of how much I want it."
Lue says being the starter is not at the top of his list.
"I'm not really focused on that right now. It's too early," Lue said. "If I come off the bench or start I believe in bringing the same intensity and to be focused. That's all I can really ask for."
However, there aren't too many players in camp who can set Collins' face aglow like Lue, and this is probably because of the guard's potential to take advantage of the new rules.
More so than any Wizard, Lue possesses the ability to harass the primary ball handler. One of the new rules reduces the time teams must get the ball into the frontcourt from 10 seconds to 8. During one scrimmage, Collins said Lue pressed so well that neither Richard Hamilton nor Courtney Alexander could consistently bring the ball up court against him.
"Whoever Ty Lue was guarding, the other guy brought it up the floor," Collins gushed. "We watched a tape and he almost forced five 8-second violations by himself on pressuring the ball. He's got speed in abundance. Here's one that will get you running for the dictionary. He's indefatigable."
Lue went to the University of Nebraska, where he once averaged more than 24 points a game, and is confident that he can contribute offensively. But Lue is also aware that the Wizards, with Michael Jordan, Hamilton and Alexander, don't need him to put up points in bunches. Instead, Lue is more concerned with growing with the Wizards and making a name in Washington.
"I can score but we already have a lot of scorers out here. It's not a big thing for me. But the way I can contribute is to pick up the defensive intensity because that's what is going to win games." Lue said.

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