The Los Angeles Lakers fired championship-winning head coach Frank Vogel after three seasons, the first to pay the price for one of the most disappointing seasons in NBA history.
The Lakers delivered a season well below expectations by finishing the schedule with a 33-49 record, failing to qualify for the playoffs, even though 10 teams in the West made it. An unacceptable performance for a club that started the season with LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Russell Westbrook, Carmelo Anthony and many veterans in a supporting role.
Vogel was fired exactly 18 months after he led the Lakers to their 17th title in his first season at the helm. Almost nothing went the right way for his next two seasons. He leaves with an overall record of 127-98 and still a year of contract in his pocket.
“Frank is a great coach and a good man,” general manager Rob Pelinka said in a statement. We will always be grateful for his work leading us to the championship in the 2019-20 season. This is an extremely difficult decision to make, but one that we believe is necessary at this stage.”
ESPN had reported Vogel’s impending dismissal after the Lakers ended their season by beating the Denver Nuggets in overtime on Sunday. During a tense post-match press conference, Vogel admitted that he had not been informed of the club’s plans before they were chained down.
It’s an embarrassing end to his career for Vogel, who has previously managed at Orlando and Indiana. The Lakers won the championship in the Florida bubble in 2002, but failed to win a playoff round thereafter.
The Lakers have never looked like a top honors team this season, even after the trade to bring in Westbrook and the hiring of Anthony to accompany James and Davis. They struggled around .500 until Jan. 7, when they began a 10-30 descent, exacerbated by Davis’ most recent long injury absence.
Despite another impressive season for 37-year-old veteran James, the Lakers never found their stride with a roster consisting of nine players over 30 and 11 who weren’t with the club last season. Davis has only appeared in 40 of 82 meetings, while Westbrook has struggled to fit into the Lakers’ team concept in one of his worst career seasons.
All the noise caused by the reunion of the trio of James Davis and Westbrook before the start of the season never really resulted in anything concrete, the three players in the end only playing 21 games together, for a record of 11 -10.
The Lakers have used 41 different starting formations.
“At the end of the day, the reason we haven’t been good is that we’ve never been on the damn court together,” James said. You never got to see the full potential of this club.”
Although Vogel received his share of criticism for his inability to straighten the bar, injuries to his key parts did not help him.
Davis has played just 76 of the Lakers’ 154 games over the past two years. James was only able to take part in 101 games during the same period.
Nick Nurse in the sights of the Lakers?
Toronto Raptors head coach Nick Nurse is believed to be in the Los Angeles Lakers’ sights to succeed Frank Vogel, reports Shams Charania of Athleticism.
Nurse is under contract for two more seasons with the Raptors. The Lakers should therefore obtain permission from the Toronto club before they can begin discussions with the head coach.
In his first campaign as head coach in 2018-19, Nurse led the Raptors to the championship. He is 186-122 in four seasons.
Juwan Howard, who leads the University of Michigan Wolverines in the NCAA, would also be a candidate considered by the Lakers, adds Charania.