Lakers fire title-winning coach Frank Vogel
Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (left) sits on the bench next to forward Anthony Davis as head coach Frank Vogel stands by during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Denver Nuggets on Sunday, April 3, 2022, in Los Angeles.
LOS ANGELES (AP):
FRANK VOGEL masterminded the 17th championship in the Los Angeles Lakers’ remarkable history in his first season on their bench.
Exactly 18 months after that triumph, he also became part of the Lakers’ past.
The Lakers fired Vogel on Monday, choosing their title-winning coach to take the first fall for one of the most disappointing seasons in NBA history.
Los Angeles finished 33-49 and missed the 10-team Western Conference playoffs this season. It was a humiliating underachievement for LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Russell Westbrook, Carmelo Anthony and a veteran-laden supporting cast widely expected to contend for another championship.
Vogel was under contract through the next season, but almost nothing has gone right over the past two seasons for the rosters assembled by general manager Rob Pelinka and coached by Vogel, who went 127-98 in his three seasons running the club.
Pelinka declined to elaborate on Monday on why he and owner Jeanie Buss felt Vogel needed to be fired.
“Today is not going to be a day of finger-pointing and unwinding all the specific reasons,” Pelinka said.
“We just felt organisationally, at the highest level, it was time for a new voice. … That’s not to say anything against the incredible accomplishments that Frank Vogel has had. He was a great coach here, and he’s going to go on to be a great coach somewhere else.”
I WASN’T AWARE OF THE CLUB’S DECISION
ESPN reported Vogel’s imminent firing immediately after the Lakers finished the season by beating Denver in overtime Sunday night. During an awkward postgame news conference, Vogel admitted he had not yet been told of the club’s decision before it was leaked to ESPN.
Pelinka dismissed the public relations embarrassment of the leak for the Lakers, calling the report “speculative and unsourced”.
But it was a tacky end to a tenure that began tremendously for Vogel, the former coach at Orlando and Indiana. The Lakers claimed a title in the Florida bubble in October 2020, but haven’t won another playoff round since.
Pelinka doesn’t plan to replace Vogel immediately, and he said he hasn’t even assembled a list of potential candidates. The GM said it “would be great” to have a coach in place before the draft in June, but the Lakers’ search will be “thorough and methodical”.
Los Angeles never resembled a championship team this season despite trading for Westbrook and signing Anthony to play alongside James and Davis. The Lakers stumbled along near .500 until January 7, when they entered a 10-30 nosedive exacerbated by the latest lengthy injury absence for Davis, who has missed more games than he has played in the past two seasons.
“This was a disappointing Lakers season at every level,” Pelinka said. “In the face of disappointment, our fans expect more, and that’s in every facet. It starts in the front office led by me, and our ability to construct the right roster. It starts with the coaches holding players accountable and making sure there’s on-court execution.”
Despite another impressive season from the 37-year-old James, the Lakers never jelled this season with a roster built around nine players over 30 and 11 players who weren’t with the team last season. Davis managed to play in only 40 of their 82 games, while Westbrook struggled to fit into the Lakers’ team concept during one of the worst seasons of his professional career.
After so much preseason ballyhoo around the teaming of James, Davis and Westbrook, the trio managed to play in only 21 games together – and went 11-10. The Lakers used 41 different starting line-ups.