It started with a simple question from media personality Josiah Johnson of Fubo Sports, but because he was asking it of well-known motormouth Gilbert Arenas—a three-time NBA All-Star—you just never can be sure where it all would land. Turns out, it landed with Arenas ripping Vogel up and down and essentially blaming the Lakers’ early-season woes on the coach.
“Deal or chill?” is the game Johnson was playing with Arenas, inviting Arenas to either suggest a shakeup (deal) or to advocate patience (chill).
“I’m gonna chill with the team,” Arenas said. “Deal with the coach.”
Then he launched into his full-throated bashing of Vogel, who is in his third season as the Lakers coach and helped them win a championship in the Orlando bubble in 2020. Though, according to Arenas, Vogel does not deserve much of a hat-tip on that.
Listen, when they won a championship and someone asked me, what do you rate him, I said, ‘With that team? He gets a C-plus at best.’ Like the lineups he was putting in sometimes were just horrible. I was trying to figure out what are you expecting with some of these lineups. Like, you have Anthony Davis, LeBron and then there are three non-scorers on the team if he is just a spot-up shooter or he doesn’t shoot at all? For defense. You’re setting up a defense not realizing on offense, everyone is looking at LeBron and AD.
It’s actually harder for them to score because they gotta go through five players now. Some of those lineups I was looking at, that’s just bad management right there. Yeah, you won because the team that you played was just not that good. The Heat was not a championship team. That should have been 4-0.
Many Have Questioned Vogel’s Rotations This Season
Certainly, Arenas is not the only one who has been critical of Vogel lately, especially considering the team’s uninspiring 8-7 start against pretty weak competition. Vogel has been questioned about his reliance on a two-big lineup, with DeAndre Jordan at center and Anthony Davis at power forward, which Vogel used 10 times this season—though he has abandoned it in the last three games.
Vogel has also gotten heat for starting ineffective Kent Bazemore for 13 games, though, in his defense, injuries handcuffed him on that. In fact, most criticism of Vogel should be couched in the fact that he has been missing star LeBron James for the past nine games because of an abdominal strain.
But Arenas said one of Vogel’s big faults is that he is not deploying his point guard, Russell Westbrook, the right way. “You still don’t know how to play Westbrook the correct way,” Arenas said. “You still ain’t using him the way he needs to be used. What was training camp for then? What were you doing in training camp?”
Vogel, Arenas said, is too set in his ways. That has been a common criticism of the coach—that he wants to play the same rough-and-tumble style, no matter his personnel. But Arenas expressed it a bit more, shall we say, artfully.
“That’s why some coaches are just not good,” Arenas said. “They don’t understand what talent it, how that talent is played, how to utilize that talent. They’re stuck with, this is what I want, this is what it is gonna look like, we’re gonna do it this way. No, it’s 82 f***** games. Try some sh**, try some sh**. You never know what you’ll get when you try some sh**.”
Lakers Offensive Woes More About Injuries Than Coaching
Finally, Arenas had some harsh takes on the Lakers’ offense, which averages 104.8 points per 100 possessions, 23rd in the NBA. Again, Arenas might not express himself with much restraint, but his criticism is still valid—remember early this year when Davis warned the Lakers were being too predictable offensively? Arenas apparently agrees.
“First of all, what is the offense?” he said. “All I see is like, when LeBron and AD are in, they do a pick-and-roll and you got one guy in the corner and someone over there, someone in the deep over corner—you know how there are plants in the club? He’s atmosphere. There to look pretty. That’s what half that team looks like when those guys are in.”
The Lakers don’t have a lot of shooters, but Arenas said that is not what they need, really.
“If you’re trying to run offense with LeBron and Anthony Davis, you don’t need shooters, you need scorers,” he said. “You need guys who can get buckets. A shooter can only be effective if he actually gets the ball.”
Again, one final defense of Vogel—the Lakers have scorers, but few have been healthy. Talen Horton-Tucker only made his season debut on Sunday and the Lakers’ other big offensive support piece, Kendrick Nunn, is still hurt. So, Arenas might be right, in a lot of cases, but context for injuries must be added, too.