The Los Angeles Lakers have hired Coach Frank Vogel as their next head coach. This will be Vogel’s third stop as an NBA head coach, previously leading the Indiana Pacers (2011-16) and the Orlando Magic (2016-18). He replaces Luke Walton who was fired at the end of the regular season. It seemed as though the Lakers had former Lebron coach, Ty Lue, in their sights, but the deal fell apart.
Being head coach of the Lakers certainly comes with its challenges beyond just the high expectations of a rabid fan base and an organization steep in history. Vogel will be walking into a difficult situation for a variety of reasons:
- Coaching staff. Coach Frank Vogel agreed to a 3-year deal with the Lakers. He also agreed to have Jason Kidd on his staff as “a prominent” assistant. The dynamic of these 2 coaches working together will be interesting. Not only has Kidd previously been a head coach in the NBA, but it was rumored that he really wanted the Lakers job prior them hiring Vogel. Additionally, Kidd is a huge name in basketball, while Vogel is less known by most. Will Kidd, as an assistant coach, overshadow Vogel? There is also Kidd’s close relationship with Lebron James, stemming back to their time on Team USA. It will interesting to see what happens if the Lakers get off to a rough start. Will the Lakers be quick to make a change to Kidd? While not always the case, there is a history in the NBA of head coaches with powerful assistants not succeeding, most recently with David Blatt and Ty Lue in Cleveland.
- The Lebron factor. Since his return to Cleveland from Miami, there is an image out there that Lebron ultimately runs the organization- he is the general manager, head coach, and the star player. He is the one who makes the roster moves and decides who is the head coach. It is clear though that he was not involved in the Vogel hire. While most would have thought that James would have a voice in the hiring process of a head coach, he did not. Coach Frank Vogel was hired by Rob Pelinka and Kurt Rambis. Now, Vogel and James will have to work together with no prior relationship. This parallels the same storyline with the Cleveland Cavs in 2014. Even though the Cavs liked Ty Lue, they hired David Blatt and paired him with Lue. Blatt, a head coach with a proven track record (overseas), came in without Lebron’s respect. The situation was made even more difficult by pairing him with a respected former player in Lue. One year later, Blatt was gone and Lue was the head coach. Could we see the same thing in Los Angeles with Vogel and Kidd? It will be extremely important for Vogel to develop a great working relationship with James, even then, it may be too difficult to overcome the respect he has for former player, Kidd.
- The roster. The next couple of months will be extremely important for the Lakers to build their roster. First, the Lakers will see what kind of lottery pick they get. Then, more importantly, what they will do with their $35 million in cap space. While getting a head coach in place was important for Pelinka, upgrading the roster is the biggest task for Pelinka. How he is able to build this roster may ultimately determine what type of success Vogel is able to have.
These are just a few of the challenges that lay ahead for Vogel. But Vogel has been here before. He once took over the Indiana Pacers mid-season and was able to have great success with a team of veteran players.