According to Sam Amick of The Athletic, Russell Westbrook’s subpar season played a significant role in Vogel getting fired.
“When the decision was made to fire Vogel, sources say his handling of Westbrook and the inability to find a way to make him a more productive part of the program were among the factors that played a big part,” Amick reported. “There was a strong sense that it was on Vogel to make the Westbrook experiment work, and the fact that it didn’t led to questions about whether Westbrook had been put in a position to succeed. That sure smells like the hope of a Russ revival to me.”
The Lakers acquired Westbrook from the Washington Wizards last summer. The franchise thought he would mesh with Vogel, LeBron James and Anthony Davis and help the organization win its 18th title.
However, Westbrook struggled this season and was never on the same page as Vogel.
Westbrook Never Respected Vogel
According to Dan Woike and Broderick Turner of the LA Times, Westbrook never respected Vogel. The one-time MVP got into a heated argument with his coach in training camp and things never got better.
“Russ never respected Frank from Day 1,” said one Lakers staff member with knowledge of the situation. “The moment Frank said anybody who gets the rebound can bring it up the court, which is just how the NBA is played these days, Russ was like, ‘Naw, I’m the point guard. Give the ball to me. Everybody run.’ Frank was like, ‘No, we have Talen [Horton-Tucker]. We have Austin [Reaves]. We have Malik [Monk]. We have LeBron [James]. We have AD [Anthony Davis]. They can all bring the ball up.’ He was like, ‘Nope, I’m the point guard. Give me that s—. Everybody get out the way.’ From that point on, in training camp, it was a wrap, ‘cause now Russ is a fish out of water. He doesn’t know what to do. That’s how that started.”
Westbrook averaged 18.5 points, 7.4 rebounds and 7.1 assists this season while shooting 44.4% from the field, 29.8% from beyond the arc and 66.7% from the free-throw line. He committed 295 turnovers in 78 games and air-balled and bricked so many shots that fans started calling him “Westbrick.”
Westbrook conducted his exit interview the same day Vogel was fired and the future Hall of Famer took shots at Vogel and the Lakers throughout his 21-minute post-exit-interview press conference. Westbrook has a player option worth $47,063,478 for next season.
Westbrook on Vogel: ‘I’m Not Sure What His Issue Was with Me’
“I think it’s unfortunate to be honest because I’ve never had an issue with any of my coaches before,” Westbrook said about Vogel. “I’m not sure what his issue was with me or I’m not sure why, but I can’t really give you an answer to why we really never connected. That’s something that he has to answer, but I never, from the get-go, was feeling like (we were on the same page.) I was having to try to prove myself to him and my capabilities and what I’ve been able to do for this game and it’s unfortunate but it’s really not (my fault). It’s kind of out of my hands.”
The Lakers will hire a new coach this offseason. They also have to decide if they want to run it back with Westbrook again or trade the guard.