Frank Vogel, Coach of the Year?

(Image/Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

In spite of widespread skepticism, Frank Vogel has smoothly guided the Los Angeles Lakers through his first regular season as coach.

Frank Vogel never had a honeymoon. Most coaches, upon being hired, are greeted with a sort of hopeful enthusiasm. Fans are fans for a reason, and have a well-documented tendency to hope for the best. Instead, Vogel was hired under a cloud of controversy after the exhaustively documented breakdown in talks between the Lakers and erstwhile LeBron James coach, Tyronn Lue.

Many in the media and online dismissed Vogel as a third choice coach and placeholder for assistants Jason Kidd and Lionel Hollins. It was widely assumed that he would be the fall guy, should the team run into any real trouble.

In spite of the noise, the team rallied around Vogel from the first. LeBron James – the most important voice in the locker room – already respected Vogel from his days in Miami. When he played in consecutive Eastern Conference Finals series’ against the Vogel-coached Indiana Pacers. The rest of the locker room got the message.

Vogel’s open, direct, and collaborative style has proven successful while managing a team with two experienced superstars and a staff with two former head coaches. Who are also former star players. He has navigated potentially difficult dynamics by sustaining team success. He has been even and measured in his public comments, always realistic but never too high or too low.

(Image/Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Offensively, his sets have gotten some criticism for not being particularly imaginative. His reputation coming into this season was predominantly as a defensive coach, and no one currently on the coaching staff fits the “offensive coordinator” role. Especially in the way that Tex Winter did for another defensive-minded Laker head coach, Phil Jackson.

During the season, he took significant heat for under-utilizing the LeBron James/Anthony Davis screen-and-roll in favor of post-ups or isolation plays. In part, that was a reaction to the way the Lakers have been defended this season. When Davis is being guarded by a position 4 player or the opposing team plays a smaller 5, teams are switching the screen-and-roll. That leads naturally to mismatches and isolation play.

In the playoffs, when teams are heavily scouted and offensive sets are known to all. Offensive play in recent years has frequently degenerated into the cat-and-mouse game of manipulating switches to create advantageous match-ups. Purposefully creating perimeter isolation or post up situations for James and Davis throughout the season is, in all probability, designed to get the team accustomed to the style of offense they are likely to be playing in the post-season.

(Image/Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times)

Defensively, Vogel has been superb. The Lakers are third in the NBA in defensive rating (up from 13th last year), and the team-wide buy-in has been noticeable. The late-season addition of a strong, versatile defender in Markieff Morris only stands to improve an already stingy Laker defense.

Overall, Vogel has built an impressive case for himself in the Coach of the Year balloting. He has stiff competition in Toronto’s Nick Nurse, who has kept the Raptors in the top tier in the East in spite of losing Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green from last year’s championship squad. Mike Budenholzer of the Bucks would be a top contender, but he was last year’s victor and the voters dislike consecutive wins – only once has any coach won back-to-back CotY awards.

Other coaches from teams who are not top-tier, such as Indiana’s Nate McMillan and Memphis’ Taylor Jenkins, have made waves by maximizing limited rosters. But are disadvantaged by the fact that both Vogel and Nurse are coaching contending teams.

Whether he ultimately receives the award or not, Frank Vogel has been a reasonable, steady hand for a team that needed a down-to-earth coach who could nonetheless earn the respect of the star-studded team and coaching staff. The real test of his ability will come in the playoffs. But thus far he has provided everything that Laker fans could have wanted from him.

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Frank Vogel on the NBA Suspension, Returning to No Fans

(Image/Loop Haiti)

In a recent interview with Spectrum SportsNet on April 2, Los Angeles Lakers Head Coach Frank Vogel spoke about the NBA suspension. Specifically how it halted the Lakers’ 49-14 season, with the team sitting top of the Western Conference by 5.5 games.

“Yeah it’s disappointing. Obviously when you’re going well you want to keep going, when you’re struggling that’s when you don’t. You really try to have the mindset as a team to focus only on what we can control. This is something that’s not controllable by us, so we’re going to make the best of a difficult situation.”

Vogel added: “We’re hopeful that we’re able to resume at some-point, if it’s safe for the world, for us, to resume. Hopefully to have a chance to finish what we started. All of that’s going to play out in the coming months.”

Frank Vogel and the Lakers' staff will lead Team LeBron at 2020 ...
(Image/Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE/Getty Images)

Another topic of the Spectrum SportsNet interview was surrounding an NBA return with no fans in the arenas. When asking about whether he’d thought about such a return, Vogel responded with: “I have. I can’t really put myself in exactly what it would feel like. It would be extremely unusual.”

The 46-year-old went on to mention that he feels that he would have a “baseboard” for experiencing games with no fans due to his past experiences at the NBA Summer League in Orlando. Where he described the games just being attended by team executives.

Frank Vogel implied that in the meantime, with the NBA’s short-term future being wildly speculated, that he and his team will continue to follow protocol and will be prepared to be called upon when needed.

“We don’t know, everything’s up in the air right now. We don’t know if that’s down the road for us or not. We’re going to continue to follow the league’s lead and do whatever is best for our league, whilst staying in line with what’s socially responsible and doing what’s safe for the world.”

Catch the full interview with Frank Vogel on Spectrum SportsNet here.

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Frank Vogel on Player Contact During the Suspension

(Image/Adam Pantozzi/NBAE/Getty Images)

In an interview with Spectrum SportsNet on April 2, Los Angeles Lakers Head Coach Frank Vogel spoke about the methods he uses to keep in contact with his players during the current NBA suspension.

“We call them. We text them. I’ve been in touch with all of our players. We’ve had conference calls with Rob Pelinka and myself without players. Trying to stay together.”

Tuning into the interview via webcam whilst at home, Vogel stated his concerns about players falling out of shape, as well as dieting concerns. He did add what the Lakers are doing to combat those worries using Zoom technology.

“In the meantime, the big concern is; are guys going to commit to staying in shape, we challenge them to put a big focus on just their physical conditioning. Do as much basketball stuff you can do at your house. Whether it’s dribbling drills or whatnot.”

“Using the Zoom technology to get everyone together, to work out at the same time. To be able to talk with each other and compete with each other on certain drills. That’s something we’re really excited about as well.”

Catch the full interview with Frank Vogel on Spectrum SportsNet here.

Check out Lakers UK’s podcast The Lake Lake Show on all podcast platforms. Including Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Google Podcasts.

Lakers UK are proud affiliate partners of Fanatics UK and the NBA Store Europe. We do possess unique promotional codes for both websites that can offer our readers and followers 10% off site-wide through the following weblinks.

Fanatics UK: and enter the promotional code LAKERSUK10 at checkout to receive 10% off. This is not limited to just NBA apparel, but the discount can be used on MLB, NFL, NHL, Football/Soccer gear also!

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3 Offensive-Minded Assistant Coaches Who Could Help the Lakers

(Image/Los Angeles Times)

The Los Angeles Lakers have made numerous staff additions to Head Coach Frank Vogel’s staff. However, should they add another offensive-minded assistant into the mix?

The Los Angeles Lakers announced numerous assistant coaching hires for the upcoming season. With the lack of experience the Lakers had with former Head Coach Luke Walton and his previous coaching staff, the announcement of the new staff is a breath of fresh air for fans of the purple and gold.

The overall outlook of the new coaching set-up is defensive-minded, tough, and highly experienced. With the likes of Frank Vogel and Lionel Hollins, you have two coaches who preach hard nosed defense, as well as a blue-collar mentality.

With Jason Kidd, you get a coach credited with assisting the current Most Valuable Player of the NBA, Giannis Antetokounmpo, become the dominant player he is today.

Back in January of 2018, Rich Rovito of the Associated Press via, quoted the Antetokounmpo saying the following about Kidd:

“He’s a big part of my success in the league.. I’m loyal to the people I work with. I love him as a person. I care about him as a person.”

Giannis Antetokounmpo

Phil Handy provides the Lakers with a highly respected, and admired, player and skills development coach who already has previous ties to LeBron James during their time with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Last but not least, Mike Penberthy, the Lakers finally get the shooting coach they have needed for quite some time. With all these new additions, the purple and gold have finally surrounded LeBron James, and now Anthony Davis, with a staff and roster capable of competing for a championship.

While all these coaching changes have been welcomed with open arms, there seems to be a lack of offensive-minded coaching on the staff.

With Frank Vogel, Jason Kidd and Lionel Hollins not being renowned for their offensive sets or being innovators on the attacking side of the ball, one wonders whether the Lakers could benefit from adding an offensive-minded assistant coach.

With that being said, here are 3 options for the Lakers should they decide to go down the route of adding an additional coach.

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(Image/Daily Knicks)

Jeff Hornacek 

Remove Jeff Hornacek‘s tenure with the New York Knicks, and you have a coach who plays a fast, up-tempo style of basketball.

The Knicks experiment was doomed from the very beginning, with the shadow of the all-time great Phil Jackson in the front office. Jackson demanded several triangle offense sets to be ran, which made it extremely hard for Hornacek to implement the system he wanted.

It was the perfect storm of having an incompetent front office, not having the necessary players to fit the system, and having your boss demanding you to alter your system to a style of play that in the modern NBA is outdated.

You only need to look at Hornacek’s time with the Phoenix Suns to get an accurate view of what his brand of offense can look like.

In theory, Hornacek would have been an ideal hire last season to Luke Walton’s staff, as his style of play would have thrived. Especially with the likes of Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram being able to push the pace, using their young legs, and ability, to run his system to perfection.

Hornacek’s offense would fit perfectly with this current Lakers roster too. With 3-point shooting, floor spacing, and pick-and-roll sets being of high importance, the Lakers have just the right personnel for this to work.

In Anthony Davis, you have a player who is an elite roller to the rim, in LeBron James you have an elite pick-and-roll passer, in Danny Green you have an elite pick-and-pop shooter, and in Kyle Kuzma you have another 3-point shooter capable of punishing teams if you leave him open.

Jeff Hornacek is currently unemployed, and he might be an ideal person to bring into the fold to add an offensive weapon to the coaching staff.

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Dave Joerger

While he is not an immediate choice when you think of offensive-minded coaches, Dave Joerger in his final year with the Sacramento Kings did show potential to adapt to changing circumstances.

Similar to Lionel Hollins and Frank Vogel, Joerger hung his hat on being a defensive-minded, grit-and-grind Head Coach. His idea of winning was slowing the game down, grinding out the opponent, and playing tough defense.

However, last season with the Kings, Joerger was able to see that the players under him did not suit the style of play he preaches. They possessed no defensive anchor to build around, and asking a young energetic point guard like De’Aaron Fox to slow down seemed counter-productive.

Rather than sticking to the system he knew, Joerger changed his ways to accommodate his players. As a result, the Kings played some of the fastest, most attractive basketball we saw last season. Not since the days of Jason Williams, Mike Bibby, and Chris Webber had the Kings been so exciting to watch.

If Dave Joerger can bring a similar philosophy to the Lakers this season, and adapt to the players to fit in with the system implemented, then Los Angeles might be a great landing spot for him.

He might just be the right man to inject even more speed and excitement into this solid roster.

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(Image/Associated Press)

Fred Hoiberg

Considered an offensive-minded genius in the college ranks, Fred Hoiberg struggled greatly during his time with the Chicago Bulls.

During his time coaching Iowa State, Hoiberg’s teams were renowned for their floor spacing, with each member capable of pulling up from the 3-point line, this forced opposing teams to give a lot of respect on the defensive end to each player as it could cost them a wide-open 3-pointer if they not.

Whilst at the Bulls he was never given the roster to fully implement his vision as a coach. With the likes of Jimmy Butler and Derrick Rose, who were excellent players in their own right, they simply did not fit the system in which he wanted to play.

While he eventually was able to construct a roster similar to what he did with Iowa State, it was too little too late, and he was replaced internally by Jim Boylan.

While the Lakers are not constructed like Hoiberg’s Iowa State teams, they do have several above-average 3-point shooters, who with the right offensive system, could do a lot of damage.

With Anthony Davis, LeBron James, Danny Green, and Avery Bradley all being capable of making shots from beyond the arc, and the introduction of Phil Handy along with Mike Penberthy, the Lakers could be a dramatically improved 3-point shooting team this season.

Add Hoiberg to the mix and you could have potentially an elite 3-point shooting team, with great floor spacing.

Hoiberg is the only coach of the 3 named who currently has a job, he is the Head Coach for the University of Nebraska. This would make his potential appointment difficult, however, the purple and gold have been known to splash the cash to get who they want. It might not be impossible to wrestle him back to the professional ranks once more.

With such an array of defensive-minded coaches on this Lakers staff, adding one of the above could lead to the coaching staff becoming more well-rounded. 

With the likes of Ty Lue joining the Los Angeles Clippers, along with Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, the Lakers should be willing to add talent wherever they can to gain an edge.

By Jonathan Kiernan (@KiernanJonathan)

Lakers Fanclub UK are proud affiliate partners of Fanatics UK and the NBA Store Europe. We do possess unique promotional codes for both websites that can offer our readers and followers 10% off site-wide through the following weblinks.

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Lakers’ 2019-20 Coaching Staff Confirmed

(Image/USA Today Sports)

With each passing day the new NBA season draws closer and closer. For the Los Angeles Lakers, this summer has been an especially busy and fruitful time. While they did not land a prized superstar free agent to join LeBron James and Anthony Davis, they were able to land a number of quality starters, as well as valuable bench depth. Which will help them both during the regular season and hopefully during a push towards another Larry O’Brien Trophy.

While all the news articles this summer have been about the recently acquired players, the staff Lakers General Manager Rob Pelinka has assembled has gone relatively under the radar. During Luke Walton‘s tenure as Head Coach, he was heavily criticised for his assistant choices, with many of his hires being fellow Alumni of his college team at the University of Arizona

New Lakers Head Coach Frank Vogel has avoided such backlash by surrounding himself with numerous former, well-respected head coaches and assistants from around the league. On July 31, the purple and gold officially unveiled their new look coaching staff.

Frank Vogel – Head Coach

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(Image/Scott Varley/Daily Breeze/SCNG)

Having started his career in the NBA as a Head Video Coordinator with the Boston Celtics, Frank Vogel has had a long journey to becoming a Head Coach. Vogel’s work ethic and willingness to start from the bottom and work his way up is evident. With assistant coaching stints with the Boston Celtics, Philadelphia 76ers, and Indiana Pacers, it was the latter where he finally got his opportunity in 2010.

The Pacers under Vogel’s tutelage become one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference almost immediately, and were feared through-out the league for their toughness on defense and blue collar mentality. They were able to push LeBron James and “The Heatles” in Miami to 7 games in the 2013 Eastern Conference Finals, before succumbing to the eventual World Champions. 

His next stop was with the Orlando Magic in 2016, but this was an unsuccessful tenure for Vogel. With the Magic being in flux, it was extremely hard for him to establish an identity with the team when the Front Office itself were constantly making long-term moves. Vogel’s time with the Magic lasted a mere 2 years and he was fired after failing to make the playoffs. Here is hoping that Vogel can re-find his mojo with this talented Lakers roster.

Jason Kidd – Assistant Coach

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(Image/Gregory Shamus/NBAE/Getty Images)

Jason Kidd is a controversial hire by the Lakers, which was met with a lot of criticism. Kidd has been charged with assaulting his wife previously and has also been accused within NBA circles for going behind the back of his head coaches, trying to gain a promotion. 

While Kidd had a Hall of Fame playing career, he has had mixed success as a Head Coach with both the Brooklyn Nets (2013-14) and Milwaukee Bucks (2014-18), with neither team running a great system on either end of the floor. However, current MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo has always been full of praise for Kidd.

“He’s a big part of my success in the league.. I’m loyal to the people I work with. I love him as a person. I care about him as a person.”

Giannis Antetokounmpo (24/08/2019, via Rich Rovito/Associated Press)

With such high praise for Kidd as a person and coach, it makes you wonder whether the Lakers are playing the long game with Antetokounmpo by hiring Kidd in a prominent assistant role, with a view to promoting him in the near future. Only time will tell. We know he has the respect of LeBron James with the two having previously played together for Team USA. 

Lionel Hollins – Assistant Coach

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Very much a veteran hire by the Lakers, Lionel Hollins brings a wealth of experience, having played in the NBA for 10 years and coaching over the last 30. Hollins has cut his teeth with the Memphis Grizzlies in some capacity or another, for quite some years now. Similar to Coach Vogel, Hollins preaches hard-nosed defense.

The Grit and Grind era in Memphis (2010-13) optimises Hollins’ philosophy. With the likes of Marc Gasol, Zach Randolph, Tony Allen, and Mike Conley, Hollins created a team that would play physical and get in your face. Although, as the NBA became more perimeter-focused, the Grit and Grind era in Memphis began to fizzle out. 

Hollins alongside Vogel will hopefully develop a defensive system that will take the best of what Vogel did with Indiana and what Hollins did with Memphis, and create a beautiful love child. One that will be capable of locking down some of the best players the league has to offer.

Phil Handy – Assistant Coach

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(Image/Ron Turenne/Getty Images)

An extremely well respected assistant within NBA circles, Phil Handy is an extremely important hire for the Lakers. With Handy specialising in player development, his appointment comes at a perfect time with the team pushing for Championship success.

Having worked previously with LeBron James in Cleveland (2015-18) and Danny Green in Toronto (2018-19), there is already a mutual respect in that regard. Handy is not known for being diplomatic and sitting on the fence either, he will call it how he sees it. It doesn’t matter whether a player is the 15th man on the roster, or a star, he will call them out if they aren’t pulling their weight. 

An interesting fact about Handy, he has been on the bench as an assistant during five consecutive NBA Finals, four with the Cavaliers (2015-18) and one with the Raptors (2019).

Respect is key in the pursuit of a Championship. With LeBron James and Luke Walton both being drafted in the same year, it was hard for James to fully buy into what Walton was trying to do. With experienced coaches in place, the Lakers have now surrounded James and Co. with ample experience, wisdom, and basketball IQ.

Mike Penberthy – Assistant Coach

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(Image/Jon Ferrey /Allsport)

For years the Lakers have been miles behind in terms of their coaching staff. With nearly unlimited resources, the purple and gold got comfortable in just doing what got them to the dance year-after-year. While they were doing that, teams like the Golden State Warriors were focusing on innovation and how to push basketball forward.

While the hiring of former Laker Mike Penberthy isn’t a historical hire, it does signal that the franchise have admitted to their shortcomings and have finally started to step in the right direction, in hiring a shooting specialist.

Penberthy has worked alongside the likes of Paul George and Dwyane Wade on an individual basis, as well as being a shooting coach for the New Orleans Pelicans last season. Where he was credited with helping Jrue Holiday improve his shooting stroke.

Here is hoping that Penberthy can help the likes of Kyle Kuzma, Anthony Davis and LeBron James hit the 3-ball with consistency this upcoming season.

Miles Simon and Quinton Crawford – Assistant Coaches

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(Image/Josh Williams/Los Angeles Lakers)
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(Image/Arizona Athletics/YouTube)

The final assistants to the coaching staff are Miles Simon and Quinton Crawford.

Simon and Crawford share many similarities. Both attended the University of Arizona, both have backgrounds in player development, and both are former college players. While keeping Simon on the books and hiring Crawford may not set the world alight, they are two hard working assistants who have earned respect over recent years.

Simon impressed enough that he was the only assistant kept on by the Lakers from Luke Walton’s tenure. Crawford impressed whilst helping out Frank Vogel in Orlando. While we may not hear much about them throughout the season, they will both be pivotal in the day-to-day running of the team. Here is hoping that over the coming years they become important factors in building a long-term winner in Los Angeles.

Greg St. Jean – Development Coach/Advance Scout

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(Image/Wendell Cruz)

The son of former Sacramento Kings Head Coach Garry St. Jean, Greg comes to the Lakers from St John’s University. He has previously been on the Kings’ staff, working alongside the likes of DeMarcus Cousins.

During his time at St. Johns, he was a well-regarded assistant, so much so that many pushed for him to take the head coaching role that was vacated by former NBA great, Chris Mullin. St. Jean will be used as a Player Development Coach/Advanced Scout. Hopefully he will be able to work diligently with the players and help them in any way possible.

In addition, Dru Anthrop joins as a Head Video Coordinator/Player Development Coach. Anthrop was previously on the books at Vanderbilt under Jerry Stackhouse, and has worked with the Memphis Grizzlies, Orlando Magic (under Vogel), and the Indiana Pacers.

The final piece is Jon Pastorek, who will be an Assistant Video Coordinator/Player Development Coach. Pastorek has been with the Lakers since 2017, where he started as a Video Intern and then an Assistant Video Coordinator. Previously he worked as the Director of Basketball Operations at Pepperdine University.

So there we have it, the Lakers’ coaching staff is now set and ready to go for the upcoming season. Is the staff too defensive minded? Could they use an offensive mind to assist on that side of the ball? Lets hope that the staff and roster as currently constructed can lead the Lakers to championship number 17.

By Jonathan Kiernan (@KiernanJonathan)

Get to Know Frank Vogel, the Lakers’ 27th Head Coach


On the 13th May, after reports starting circling days prior, the Los Angeles Lakers officially announced the signing of Frank Vogel as the franchise’s 27th head coach. Although the terms were not announced, it is believed that Vogel has signed a 3-year deal.

“We are excited to add Frank Vogel as the next head coach of the Lakers. Coach Vogel has a proven track record of success in the NBA Playoffs, and he reflects the core qualities we were looking for in a head coach – including, detailed game preparation, extreme hard work, and holding players accountable to the highest basketball standards.”

Rob Pelinka

“I am very excited for this opportunity to join the Lakers, a prestigious organization that I have long admired. I look forward to coaching such phenomenal talent and bringing my strategic vision to the team.”

Frank Vogel

After his graduation from Kentucky in 1998, Frank Vogel’s career began with the Boston Celtics where he served as a head video coordinator under head coach Rick Pinto, of whom he worked under at Kentucky. In 2001, Vogel was promoted to an assistant coaching role, a role he held for 3 years before joining the Philadelphia 76ers, as an assistant also.

Between 2005 and 2007, Vogel did hold two ‘advance scout’ roles. With the Lakers between 2005-2006 and with the Washington Wizards between 2006-2007. From here, he then landed another assistant coaching position, this time with the Indiana Pacers.

In 2011, Vogel found himself as the interim head coach of the Pacers, mid-season. He guided the team to the playoffs for the first time since 2006, with a 20-18 record, but lost in the first round. Shortly after, he was officially named as the Pacers’ head coach. In his first full season in charge (2011/12), Vogel led the team to a 42-24 record and to the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals, where they fell to LeBron James and the Miami Heat.

Vogel took the success of the team a step further, making the Eastern Conference Finals for the following two seasons (2012/13 and 2013/14), with 49-32 and 56-26 records, respectively. On both occasions, the Pacers lost to a LeBron James-led Miami Heat. Off the back of such success, Vogel signed a two-year extension. However, the following campaign saw Paul George miss the majority of the season due to injury, which lead to the Pacers missing the playoffs based on a tiebreaker with the Brooklyn Nets.


The Pacers did return to the playoffs in the 2015/16 season, with a retooled roster, but fell first time out to the Toronto Raptors in seven games. Following the season Vogel’s contract was not renewed. He did depart the franchise holding their record for all-time NBA wins.

Frank Vogel did endure a short tenure with the Orlando Magic between 2016 and 2018. This proved to be unsuccessful as Vogel could only post season records of 29-53 and 25-57. This leads up to present time, as Vogel was not employed in a coaching capacity for the 2018/19 season.

Over 8 seasons, Vogel has a regular season record of 304-291 (.511) and a playoff record of 31-30 (.508). His hiring will provide a defensive boost to a team that underwhelmed defensively last season. Vogel’s Indiana Pacers team led the league in defensive efficiency twice and were consistently in the top-10 during his five-and-a-half seasons there.

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Historically, Vogel’s teams have struggled offensively but if the front office surround LeBron James with more 3-point threats, Vogel can look to structure a space-and-pace system which may work well.

A worrying factor is that Vogel is coming off a 54-110 tenancy with the Orlando Magic, before being relieved of his duties. His time in Orlando was deemed a disaster and his reputation certainly took a hit. There were probably many factors that contributed to his failure however, the fit obviously didn’t work, the franchise was among a rebuild, as well as questionable personnel moves.

It was a chaotic, puzzling process that lead to Frank Vogel’s hiring, although it is a fresh start following Luke Walton and his questionable decision making. Vogel obviously possess proven quality and has experienced success in the NBA. Laker fans are best off getting behind their man until he gives them a reason not to. We wish you the best of luck, coach Vogel!

By Matt Evans (@mattyyyevans)

The Lakers Hire Vogel, Power is the Name of the Game

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Frank Vogel was officially hired as Lakers’ head coach yesterday, following the break down in talks with Ty Lue. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarkowski has reported that Jason Kidd has agreed to become a “prominent” assistant on Vogel’s staff.

How did the Lakers go from respected names like Monty Williams and Ty Lue to coaches that can be classified as nothing more than retreads? Was this really the best the Lakers could do? Of course it wasn’t. While the Lakers have yet to make any public statement about who is actually calling the shots or why moves are being made, only one motivation can be found that explains it all: the need for control at the top of the Lakers brass.

It’s clear that there is nothing about the Vogel-Kidd hirings that make any basketball sense. Vogel did have success early on as the Indiana Pacers’ head coach through the 2013-2014 season. However, since then, in between the remainder of his time in Indiana and his two years in Orlando, he averaged just over 34 wins per year and was not the head coach of any team for the 2018-2019 season. Before being fired as Magic head coach, he won just 29 and then 25 games, in his final two seasons. Vogel was then replaced by Steve Clifford who won 42 games the very next year.

Jason Kidd was the head coach in both Brooklyn and Milwaukee and averaged 36 wins per season. Kidd won only 23 games out of 45 before being fired by the Bucks in the 2017-2018 season. He’s most remembered for his time in Brooklyn where he staged an “accidental” bump into a Nets player, dropping a beverage to try and steal an unofficial timeout – an act that led to him being fined by the NBA.

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He then angled his way into a head coaching position with the Bucks in 2014 after being denied more management power with the Nets. He met with Bucks officials to become their head coach despite the then coach, Larry Drew, still being employed in the same position. The very next season, he was replaced by Mike Budenholzer who now has the Bucks in position to compete for an NBA championship. As for Kidd’s off-court life, there are also issues there as well.

We know that Ty Lue was summarily dismissed as a candidate for Lakers head coach for reasons that were non-basketball related. First, the Lakers low-balled Lue with a 3-year offer despite the fact that it is expected that coaches be offered 5-years (see Monty Williams’ 5-year deal with Phoenix). Apparently, they wanted Lue to only be head coach for as long as LeBron was under contract with the Lakers. Second, they also offered Lue 18 million dollars over 3-years which was their final offer, meaning they actually offered less before this.

Are the Lakers all of a sudden hurting for money? Hardly. So why skimp on money and years for a coach that made the most basketball sense of any available candidates? There is no basketball-related reason to explain this. Third, Marc Stein of the New York Times reported that an additional impediment leading to the Laker-Lue impasse was the fact that the Lakers were trying to impose their choices for assistant coaches (e.g. possibly Kurt Rambis and/or Jason Kidd) on Lue as a precondition to his hiring, an imposition not traditionally placed on any respected coaching candidate.

For the sake of not losing my mind, I will refrain from discussing any possible qualifications of Linda Rambis, who apparently has a good deal of say by virtue of her being the close friend and confidant of Jeanie Buss. But what exactly has Linda’s husband, Kurt Rambis, done to be so heavily involved with Lakers decision-making? Adrian Wojnarowski has reported that Rambis was playing a “major role” in the Lakers coaching search. ESPN have also stated that the Lakers tried to impose on Lue, placing Rambis as part of his staff if he were to be hired as the head coach.


In Rambis’ two only full seasons as a head coach, he won an average of 16 games and compiled a total record of 32-132 with the Minnesota Timberwolves. He was also associate head coach in New York and performed less than successfully before being fired in April of 2018. This was all not to mention a Twitter incident of embarrassing fashion leading to Rambis having to reportedly delete his account. He then rejoined the Lakers in September of 2018 as a senior basketball advisor. In short, no one has fallen upward faster than Rambis for reasons that can’t have had any basketball roots.

If these moves don’t make basketball sense – and they don’t – what is the explanation for all of this? It has to be power and control. We all know that Jeanie Buss fired her own brother, Jim Buss, from his position of running the basketball side of the franchise in 2017. Jeanie then had to fend off an attempted coup led by Jim and other Buss siblings in court before maintaining control of the team. Since then, there has been nothing but failed hires of “Laker people”. After such an attempt at a hostile takeover, it is understandable that in order to continue to maintain control, she would want to hire people she trusts. But it goes beyond that.

When the man who refers to Jeanie as his sister, Magic Johnson, stepped down, Jeanie still didn’t reach out to anyone outside the organisation for guidance. She refused to go beyond previous insular thinking despite the less-than-successful track record. Ric Bucher of Bleacher Report suggested that in the midst of the failed Anthony Davis trade talks in early 2019, LeBron James’ agent was so infuriated by the Lakers that she considered trading James because they were exercising too much control during the process.

(Image/Los Angeles Times)

During the Lue negotiations, Bill Oram of The Athletic reported that there was “sensitivity within Lakers walls to the outside narrative that James and his representatives are calling the shots, and hiring Lue would do nothing to diminish those cries”. There certainly is no basketball reason to care about such a perception.

Let’s be clear, this piece is not attempting to argue that Jeanie Buss and the Lakers brass don’t care about winning on the court. It’s just that it seems clear that winning isn’t the most important thing to the head figures. All of the moves above make sense if one looks at it through the prism of the fact that what matters most to the Lakers decision makers is who gets the credit, who appears to be in control, and who has the power. Credit seems to be more important than credibility.

While it won’t satisfy fans from any basketball perspective, looking at the Lakers’ moves from this prism will at least help fans set future expectations and possibly fill in blanks for what has been going on lately in Lakerland. Power is paramount. Winning is… less so. Just keep this in mind any time the Lakers make a nonsensical move – and we have no reason to think this will stop any time soon – and such moves will begin to start making sense.

By Frank Gaulden (@FrankGaulden)