The Los Angeles Lakers fired Frank Vogel on Monday, choosing their title-winning head coach to take the fall for one of the most disappointing campaigns in NBA history.
Vogel was under contract through next season, but almost
nothing has gone right over the past two seasons for the rosters assembled by
vice president of basketball operations and general manager Rob Pelinka and
coached by Vogel, who went 127-98 in his three seasons running the club.
Pelinka declined to elaborate 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 organizationally, 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.”
Pelinka doesn’t plan to replace Vogel right away, 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 that the Lakers’ search will be “thorough and methodical.”
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The Lakers have not dismissed any of Vogel’s coaching staff
at this time, league sources told ESPN’s Dave McMenamin.
The Lakers concluded the 2021-22 season with a 33-49 record,
failing to qualify for the play-in tournament.
“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.”
Continuity was a constant challenge for Vogel and the Lakers this season, as they had to contend with injuries to stars LeBron James and Anthony Davis and a roster construction with challenges that included limited shooting and athleticism.
James spoke to the media Monday morning before Vogel’s fate
was revealed by the Lakers’ front office.
“I respect Frank as a coach, as a man,” James said.
“Our partnership that we’ve had over the few years here has been nothing
but candid, and great conversations. This is a guy that gives everything to the
game and prepared us every single night. … I don’t know what’s going to
happen with Frank being here, but I’ve got nothing but respect for him.”
Los Angeles was the only team to not have a single five-man lineup play 100 minutes together, according to ESPN Stats & Information research. Despite entering the season with high expectations, the Lakers were only able to have James, Davis and Russell Westbrook on the floor together for 21 games. They went 11-10 in those contests.
The Lakers finished the season in the bottom 10 in both
offensive and defensive efficiency, ranking 21st in defensive rating after
finishing first in 2020-21 and third in 2019-20.
L.A. lost 18 of 24 matches following the All-Star break, with only the Portland Trail Blazers, Houston Rockets and Indiana Pacers finishing with worse records during that span.
Vogel was hired in May 2019 to assemble a cohesive team around James and Davis, who was officially acquired from the New Orleans Pelicans two months later. Vogel’s plans worked right away: His first team weathered the NBA’s COVID-19 shutdown and then won the Lakers’ 17th NBA championship in the Orlando bubble.
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