Lakers on Verge of Making Major Change: Report

Frank Vogel

Getty The Lakers are considering moving on from head coach Frank Vogel (right).

Los Angeles Lakers head coach Frank Vogel appears to be coaching for his job as the team has underachieved relative to its sizable offseason expectations. The Athletic’s Bill Oram and Sam Amick reported that Vogel’s job is in “serious jeopardy” with the team nearly firing the head coach after its 37-point loss to the Nuggets on January 15.

Vogel is now on a “game-to-game” basis with the Lakers, which is a rare occurrence for a coach who is just two seasons removed from winning the NBA championship.

“By the time the Lakers and Jazz tipped off on Monday night, sources said, Vogel was coaching for his job after he narrowly avoided being fired in the wake of the 37-point loss in Denver 48 hours earlier,” Oram and Amick detailed on January 18. “Had a scene like that repeated itself against the Jazz, many believed it would have been Vogel’s last game.

“Vogel, who coached the Lakers to a championship in 2020 and whose contract runs through the 2022-23 campaign, is being evaluated on a game-to-game basis and remains at risk of being fired soon if the progress doesn’t continue, sources said. It’s unclear how much Monday’s win [vs. Jazz] relieved the pressure that surrounds him.”

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Does Vogel Deserve the Blame for the Lakers’ Struggles?

One of the main questions the Lakers would be wise to consider is whether Vogel deserves the brunt of the blame for the team’s woes. As NBA insider Marc Stein previously pointed out, it is likely easier for the Lakers to change the coaching staff than the roster even if Vogel is not the main problem.

“There is also rising buzz in coaching circles about the pressure mounting on Frank Vogel given the Lakers’ worrisome 10-10 start … given L.A.’s lack of flexibility to make roster changes,” Stein detailed on November 26.

CBS Sports’ Sam Quinn believes Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka deserves more scrutiny for constructing a roster with plenty of flaws.

“Whatever happens to Frank Vogel should happen to Rob Pelinka,” Quinn tweeted on January 18. “There are definitely valid criticisms of Vogel’s performance as coach of the Lakers, but Rob Pelinka inarguably has done a worse job as general manager of the Lakers. If one goes, the other has to go.”

The Lakers Coaching Staff Have Been Put on Notice: Report

It remains to be seen who the Lakers would appoint as the interim head coach if they make an in-season change, but assistant David Fizdale makes some sense. Fizdale already assumed the role in December when Vogel was sidelined with COVID. According to Oram and Amick, Vogel and the coaching staff were put on notice by Lakers director of basketball affairs Kurt Rambis earlier this season.

“The coaching staff has been well aware that it faced significant pressure for months,” Oram and Amick added. “Sources say that was made clear to the staff early on this season by Kurt Rambis, the former Laker and current director of basketball affairs who has become one of the most influential members of the organization since returning to the franchise in 2017.

“Yet not long after Rambis relayed the word that they were all at risk of being replaced if things did not improve, COVID complications made it nearly impossible for the Lakers to continue evaluating Vogel because, among other reasons, he wasn’t there. He entered the league’s health and safety protocols on Dec. 19 and didn’t return until Dec. 31.”

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