Lakers coach Frank Vogel was widely praised after helping the team capture a title in 2020. After admirable stints in Indiana and Orlando, he was hired by L.A. for his experience and defensive expertise.
But now that things have turned sour, Vogel has become the subject of hate and criticism by frustrated Lakers fans.
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.
As the most lucrative franchise in the NBA, expectations are always at an all-time high, and coaches are always the first to be blamed when the Purple and Gold fall short of those expectations.
It's no surprise that Vogel is facing termination if his team continues to slide.
But, according to Los Angeles Times’ Dan Woike and Broderick Turner, the status of Vogel's future may have been exaggerated. Apparently, there are no plans to replace him in the immediate future.
“All this uncertainty has NBA insiders focused on Vogel’s job status,” Woike and Turner wrote. “The win Monday, they said, is more of a stay than clemency. While there are no current plans to make a change, future plans are dependent on results.”
Guys like Vogel and Westbrook make easy scapegoats, but the problem for the Lakers may go deeper.
In the summer of 2021, Rob Pelinka pulled off a number of acquisitions in free agency that included Russell Westbrook, Carmelo Anthony, Rajon Rondo, and Dwight Howard. The age and decline of those players have created an unreliable core around LeBron James, who (at 37 years old) is having to carry his team once again.
While a new coach might help improve the overall performance of the team, the current state of the roster itself might be what's holding them back from contention.
Regardless, the Lakers will do whatever they can to turn things around but don't expect them to give up on Vogel so easily.