When Frank Vogel was hired by the Los Angeles Lakers, questions rose up about who would join him on the bench. After all, Vogel was seen as a defensive specialist and after years of incompetent offense from the Lakers, fans and pundits alike wanted to see someone with offensive experience alongside the new head coach.
What followed was the strange hire of Jason Kidd, who had interviewed for the head coaching position. Due to Kidd’s history and the circumstances of his hiring, many thought the former NBA point guard was angling to take Vogel’s job as soon as there were bumps on the road. It being obvious that the Lakers had effectively forced Kidd onto the staff made matters worse.
As it turns out, there was some method to the madness for the Lakers. According to ESPN’s Kevin Arnovitz, the Lakers were weary of letting their next head coach (Vogel), independently hire their own stuff due to a poor prior experience:
Publicly, the Lakers reject the notion that they had any specific problem with Walton’s group. Yet sources say the front office was allergic to the idea of their next coach populating the bench with “his guys.” The Lakers felt strongly that the staff should be a collection of former head coaches whose experience could earn instant credibility with a veteran roster.
The reasoning here is credible. After all, one of the main points of contention against the Luke Walton era was the inexperienced coaching staff, especially given Walton’s own youth. The Lakers now have two former head coaches in Jason Kidd and Lionel Hollins and a respected and longtime assistant in Phil Handy.
Still, the process is questionable. They could have guided Vogel’s hiring process without directly inserting Kidd on the staff. That’s not to mention that they leaked that Kidd was not hired as the team’s head coach because of his history of domestic violence but somehow that wasn’t severe enough to keep him from being an assistant.
Nevertheless, the Lakers are winning at an incredibly high rate and thus far there have been no issues in the Vogel and Kidd partnership. Kidd is also highly respected by LeBron James (Arnovitz reports that Kidd is the only person alive LeBron sees as his equal in terms of seeing the game) so there were other reasons to trust that hire. It’s hard to take faults with any of this when the team is 33-8 even if the process was not quite convincing.