There’s been nothing consistent regarding this season for head coach Frank Vogel and the Los Angeles Lakers. What once was a bunch of hard-hatted, defensive-minded monsters has turned into a largely polarizing bunch struggling to stay afloat in the Western Conference. Despite one of, if not, the biggest win of the season against the Utah Jazz on Monday, questions still remain plentiful.
Those questions are pointed directly at Vogel. At 22-22, he’s reportedly losing the confidence of the front office. The Athletic’s Bill Oram and Sam Amick both got the story, saying this about Vogel’s job security:
By the time the Lakers and Jazz tipped off on Monday night, sources said, Vogel was coaching for his job after he narrowly avoided being fired in the wake of the 37-point loss in Denver 48 hours earlier. Had a scene like that repeated itself against the Jazz, many believed it would have been Vogel’s last game.
Vogel, who coached the Lakers to a championship in 2020 and whose contract runs through the 2022-23 campaign, is being evaluated on a game-to-game basis and remains at risk of being fired soon if the progress doesn’t continue, sources said. It’s unclear how much Monday’s win relieved the pressure that surrounds him.
It’s not surprising that the Lakers are considering an overhaul. They’ve already been linked to many trade rumors with players like Jerami Grant and Myles Turner where Talen Horton-Tucker, Kendrick Nunn, and possibly a 2027 first-round pick would be going out. The change of identity is consistent given the types of players they are seeking.
While the report feels like it’s out of thin air, the decision seems to have already been a point of contention. Here’s what Oram and Amick continued to say later:
The coaching staff has been well aware that it faced significant pressure for months. Sources say that was made clear to the staff early on this season by Kurt Rambis, the former Laker and current director of basketball affairs who has become one of the most influential members of the organization since returning to the franchise in 2017.
Yet not long after Rambis relayed the word that they were all at risk of being replaced if things did not improve, COVID complications made it nearly impossible for the Lakers to continue evaluating Vogel because, among other reasons, he wasn’t there. He entered the league’s health and safety protocols on Dec. 19 and didn’t return until Dec. 31.
Like many things, COVID-19 played a part in what seems to be a delay in the Lakers’ brass desire.
It’s evident that both sides haven’t been on the same page for some time. Frank Vogel is known as a defense-first coach, usually deploying a scrambling and taxing attack on the opposition. The problem is they employ many veterans and offensive-minded players. Only in the last month have they leaned into the offensive side of the ball. They’ve trotted out LeBron at center while Anthony Davis remains on the mend. It’s led to mixed results.
There’s no words or whispers on replacements, if the Lakers elect to relieve Vogel. This makes things all the more difficult. The move would mean they are looking at adopting a new philosophy with less than half the season to go. The team has to ask themselves if it’s worth it. Either way, this seems like something the Lakers’ front office has been considering for a while since they opted to give him nothing more than a one-year contract extension this past offseason to do the bare minimum in keeping him from being a lame duck this season.
Can a franchise sitting in the 7th seed in their conference make a coaching change followed by a title run?
It’s a proposition that would be hard to bet money on, in my opinion. For now, Vogel must overcome these rumors and do what he can to salvage his time in Laker Land.