Rising Eastern Conference Team Urged to Hire Ex-Lakers Coach Frank Vogel

Frank Vogel

Getty Frank Vogel

The Los Angeles Lakers fired Frank Vogel as head coach on April 11 after the team missed the playoffs this season. Vogel went 127-98 in the regular season with the Lakers and led the franchise to its 17th championship during the 2019-20 season.

The Lakers weren’t the only team to fire their head coach after the regular season ended. The Charlotte Hornets parted ways with James Borrego, who went 138-163 with the Hornets in four years.

Charlotte has lost in the play-in tournament two seasons in a row and Matthew Stephens of the Charlotte Observer believes the Hornets “need a coach who has proven they can win in the playoffs and can win with a talented roster.”

In an April 22 column examining possible replacements for Borrego, Stephens urged the Hornets to take a look at Vogel, who turns 49 on June 21, 2022.

“The Hornets need a coach who has proven they can win in the playoffs and can win with a talented roster,” Stephens wrote. “They also need someone who can have enough success to keep Ball in Charlotte and end the narrative of, ‘He’s bolting for L.A. as soon as his rookie deal is up.’ Frank Vogel fits that description. The recently fired Lakers coach won the NBA championship with Los Angeles in the pandemic-shortened 2019-20 season in the Disney bubble and led an injury-plagued team to last year’s playoffs.

“He’s made the playoffs in seven of his 11 seasons as a head coach, twice taking the Pacers to the Eastern Conference Finals. How Vogel handles relationships with some of his players has come into question recently, with Snoop Dog going so far as to blame him for the way Russell Westbrook’s year ended in L.A., but he has shown he can win.”

Vogel has coached the Indiana Pacers, Orlando Magic and Lakers. He has compiled a regular-season record of 431-389 and a postseason mark of 49-39.

Lakers’ Rob Pelinka on Vogel: ‘Frank Is a Great Coach’

Lakers vice president of basketball operations and general manager Rob Pelinka released a statement after he fired Vogel. As expected, Pelinka had good things to say about Vogel.

“I have a tremendous amount of respect for Frank both on and off the court,” Pelinka said. “Frank is a great coach and a good man. We will forever be grateful to him for his work in guiding us to the 2019-20 NBA championship. This is an incredibly difficult decision to make, but one we feel is necessary at this point. All of us here wish Frank and his wonderful family all the best for the future.”

Lakers superstar LeBron James, who faced Vogel’s Pacers in the 2012, 2013 and 2014 playoffs when he was on the Miami Heat, praised Vogel during his exit interview on April 11. The Lakers won the 2020 championship in Vogel’s first season at the helm, but they lost in the first round of the 2021 playoffs and missed the postseason altogether this year.

The Hornets are led by LaMelo Ball, Miles Bridges, Gordon Hayward, Kelly Oubre Jr., Terry Rozier and PJ Washington. They won 43 games this season and were the fourth-highest scoring team in the league.

However, Charlotte gave up 114.9 points per game, which was 25th in the NBA, so Vogel could be a good fit for Michael Jordan’s team since he’s a defensive-minded coach.

Vogel Could Help Hornets Become Better Defensively

The Pacers were top-two in scoring defense in 2012-13 and 2013-14 under Vogel. They were also fourth in 2014-15 and eighth in 2015-16.

Meanwhile, the Lakers were fourth in scoring defense in 2019-20 and second in 2020-21. This season, Los Angeles was 28th, but that’s mostly due to the roster Vogel was working with.

The Hornets have young, versatile players in Ball, Bridges and Washington and veterans in Hayward and Oubre Jr. who have long wingspans. Vogel could potentially turn Charlotte into a top-10 defensive team if the players bought into his philosophy.

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