The Los Angeles Lakers season did not go as anyone had hoped, and Frank Vogel bears the first real consequences. So after rumors throughout the year that he would be fired, as expected, the team has finally pulled the trigger on that move, and will walk away from the head coach they won a title with less than two calendar years ago.
Adrian Wojnarowski broke the story right when the last buzzer sounded on the team’s 33-49 season.
Vogel led the Lakers to the 2020 NBA Championship and will definitely be a candidate again in the league’s future head coaching cycles.
– Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) April 11, 2022
I, uh, feel like he might find out before then now, Woj! Especially considering the report came out before he did his post-game interview.
Vogel on the reports that he has been fired: “I have not been told any shit. I will enjoy tonight’s fight … and we’ll take care of him tomorrow morning.”
– Jacob Rude (@JacobRude) April 11, 2022
But even outside of the team’s disappointing season, the writing has been sitting on the wall that the organization was not fully committed to Vogel for a while now. After the whisper that they would either not give Vogel an extension of the last year of his contract or not extend him for more than a year, the team announced his extension in a news dump on Friday night, the first sign that it was something they were. trying to sweep under the carpet rather than a decision to celebrate.
Not long after, the (expected) subsequent report that the extension was actually only for one year made Vogel (actually) a paralyzed-and-coach. That they had previously hired an assistant coach that LeBron James loves in David Fizdale – whose previous small-ball offensive philosophies fit this list better than Vogel’s love of tall-ball – did little to dampen speculation. By mid-season, there had been several leaks that Vogel was on the verge of being preserved at various points and that he would have already been dumped if Jason Kidd was still sitting on his bench. The team could not even wait until the season was over to leak that their decision had already been made, so it is no surprise that the news came so quickly after it was officially over.
In short, this was not exactly an unexpected end to the eternally awkward, arranged marriage between the Lakers and Vogel, which from start to finish really never seemed to be the team’s first choice.
Now, that is not to say that Vogel did himself many favors during a really miserable 2021-22 campaign. A complete overhaul of the team’s offensive system, so there was no continuity for a list already missing in it, may have been a mistake in hindsight, but even greater was Vogel’s early, dogmatic and often overwhelming level of commitment to a great lineup with DeAndre Jordan as the one. starting center in hopes of regaining the regular season from the team that the team found with Anthony Davis / JaVale McGee front row from the 2019-20 campaign, even though Davis had expressed a willingness to play most center this season.
Instead, Vogel started Jordan in 16 of the Lakers’ first 23 games before playing him only 12 times in total the rest of the year before Jordan was cut in the middle of the season. The Lakers first committed to small-ball when Vogel was ill with COVID-19, but he eventually returned to starting big at perhaps the worst possible time: In the team’s last meaningful game of the year with Dwight Howard and Avery Bradley starting together with Russell Westbrook and the recurring duo of LeBron James and Anthony Davis in an abomination of a starting lineup, and one that only a coach who cares so little about the level of shooting necessary for success in the 2022 NBA could love.
As a result, the team lost to the Pelicans and sealed their fate. The game – with lethargy, lack of offensive creativity and a collapse in the fourth quarter – was basically a microcosm of the 2021-22 Lakers.
Perhaps some of the choices Vogel was constantly blown for by his biggest critics were front office edicts, but it certainly did not. have to be the revived remnants of Jordan stumbling around out there if the desire was to go big early and the team did not have to prioritize shooting in their lineups as little as they did, as often as they did. They did not have to be so allergic to shifting or to funnel drivers against rim protection that did not exist in small setups. They did not have to play Avery Bradley this very.
This team – and it turns out, especially Vogel – just never had enough margin for error to compensate for all their compound self-ownership, mistakes that eroded the team’s spirit and belief in themselves to the point where they basically gave up around All. -Starter break, no longer required to consistently play hard and focused basketball for a coach they clearly considered little more than a substitute teacher for his eventual replacement, a replacement that most of them will not be near as a result of their own actions.
Now, to be as fair to Vogel as possible, injuries to the team’s wings to start training camp made it harder for the team to fully and effectively embrace the small-ball identity they were designed for, and Rob Pelinka and Kurt Rambis constructed this team. having only Speech Horton-Tucker and 36-year-old Trevor Ariza as its wing options beyond LeBron, also deserves scrutiny here.
Still, Vogel did not necessarily help himself well from the start, although there is a deeper connection to why he went in the direction he did, a direction that led to him having a metaphorical lunch at Chik-Fil-A right now. .
There will be (and have already been all year) from the national media, and maybe even some locally, that it is unfair. That Vogel got a raw deal. That he did not construct this team, and certainly did not lead the charge of swapping for Russell Westbrook. And perhaps the front office, which gave him a list that was as ill-suited as possible to play his chosen style, set him up for failure. On a human level, it was certainly not very considerate.
But if anything, it’s easier to argue that the team should have let him go faster. It was not the task of the star-studded Lakers team to build around their head coach. Vogel’s preferences would never be on top of the totem pole. That’s just not how the NBA works. LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Rob Pelinka all wanted Westbrook and a team full of certified buckets. Fair or not, it was Vogel’s job to optimize that grouping. He did not, and now he is gone.
Make no mistake: Vogel is a great coach, and his frantic defensive style will always be something Lakers fans have to thank for the team’s dominant run toward the 2020 title. But as the team leaned more toward a small-ball, offensive-focused approach to save wear and tear on their stars as they get older, Vogel’s inability to schematically or rotationally figure out a way to train the team he had , instead of the team he wanted. was ultimately a large part of his regret, though guard decisions that were out of his hands played a role in these mistakes.
And at one point, it was clear that the front office was just going to do this. It is better to tear the patch off than to pull the mess out if they have already made their decision. Although they might have waited until Monday – or at least until after Vogel’s post match – every single coaching decision this regime has made, from making Ty Lue, to forcing Jason Kidd into Vogel’s staff and even just giving Vogel a try. -year agreement before only reluctantly took a year on it, they showed how changeable they feel coaching is. So even though Vogel was not the only problem, it’s clearly the next step to fire him and get a new voice in as the team tries to move on from a year that everyone will forget.
With Vogel gone, it’s uncertain exactly where the team will go from here and who will take the job, but Quin Snyder, Doc Rivers and other familiar faces are expected to be candidates. And as the hours, days, and weeks tick by, there will certainly be more coming out about the rationale for this decision, but it always felt inevitable that Vogel would become the scapegoat if this season did not work out. Front offices, no matter how deficient, fire or relocate themselves. The only thing left to see is whether this change of coach can actually solve anything, or whether much of the same institutional dilemma that led to this always awkward season will also judge the Lakers’ next coach.
This development history will be updated with more information.
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