Following the Los Angeles Lakers’ 111-104 loss to the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday night, Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes provided an update on the status of head coach Frank Vogel.
The Lakers “will not be making any personnel changes at this time and Frank Vogel will be traveling with the team tomorrow to practice in Orlando on Friday,” sources told Haynes.
Earlier this week, The Athletic’s Sam Amick and Bill Oram reported that Vogel is on the bench and “being evaluated on a game-by-game basis.” According to the report, he “narrowly avoided being fired” after the Lakers’ 37-point loss to the Denver Nuggets and “was training for his job” when the team faced the Utah Jazz on Monday. Los Angeles ultimately beat the Jazz, 101-95.
The Lakers have put Vogel in a really tough spot — undermining him, adding additional pressure and creating a potential distraction. This is no way to treat a head coach who just helped him win a championship in October 2020. While the Lakers extended Vogel’s contract during the offseason, they reportedly only added a year to his contract alone. so he wouldn’t be lame. duck trainer this season.
These leaks not only make Vogel’s job more difficult, but they could also complicate the Lakers’ upcoming coaching search (whenever possible). Coaches talk and stick together, and members of the NBA Coaches Association probably aren’t thrilled with how the Lakers are doing this. When it comes time to find Vogel’s replacement, some candidates may be concerned about how he was treated.
Vogel is 116-72 since he took over as the Lakers’ head coach, and is 420-363 throughout his coaching career. This season, Los Angeles has disappointed, going 22-23 (which puts them in the eighth seed in the Western Conference). The Lakers have the 15th best defense in the NBA (allowing 107.4 points per 100 possessions) and the 22nd best offense (with 106.6 points per 100 possessions).
However, there is a lot of blame to dish out in Los Angeles. Some of his veteran players have struggled, most notably Russell Westbrook. And the front office made a number of questionable decisions last offseason, passing up key pieces and trading for Westbrook’s huge contract (rather than acquire DeMar DeRozan in a sign-and-trade, trade for Buddy Hield or stay put).
On Wednesday, Westbrook was benched in the final minutes of the Lakers’ loss to Indiana. According to ESPN’s Dave McMenamin, this idea had been discussed for the last week and a half, with the front office giving Vogel the green light to sit in the nine-time All-Star. “You have to do what you have to do,” management told Vogel. After Westbrook struggled at both ends, Vogel decided to replace Malik Monk (who has been a bright spot for Los Angeles).
It’s not surprising when an NBA head coach is thrown under the bus and used as a scapegoat. When a team falls short of expectations, the coach is almost always the first to be replaced. But this case feels particularly egregious, especially considering that Vogel helped the Lakers win their 17th championship not too long ago.
Former Phoenix Suns general manager Ryan McDonough recently called out the Lakers’ decision makers on how they handled this situation.
“If the Lakers want to fire Frank Vogel, they should fire Frank Vogel,” McDonough tweeted. “NBA head coaches are well paid, with the trade-off that ‘longevity’ is generally not part of the deal. But what the Lakers should absolutely not do is say that Vogel is coaching ‘game by game’ or [leak] that “there are no current plans” to replace him. That’s not fair to Frank, who won a trophy with the Lakers just 15 months ago and is one of the most respected guys in the NBA. The wind undermines his authority and by same time it damages the reputation of the franchise.